The Halcyon Days tracks evolved over five months between November 2012 and March 2013. For some reason my most subtle, deep, emotional and dark works always seem to be produced in the suppressed light of Winter. Perhaps the enforced isolation and incarceration in the studio due to the inclement weather figures in this, but I know that I also take a lot of visual and audible cues from the landscape and nature at this time.
The EP essentially describes a number of locations visited during the Winter months in the UK and my response to them in musical form.
Sojourn was borne from a visit to the hills and lakes above Betws Y Coed in Snowdonia on a bright November day. On descending back down to the village the acoustics of the valley floor suddenly opened out in a few places and the rocky hillside behind us acted like an amphitheatre sucking in sounds from distant locations. We could clearly hear people talking and the bustle of activity on the playing field combined with distant calls from the whistle of the steam railway – you can hear these sounds, and others, under the ambient guitar melodies. Arra Venton by contrast is an altogether more mysterious piece.
Arra Venton is a Landmark Trust house you can rent near Morvah and Zennor in west Cornwall. It started life as a Wesleyan chapel and blacksmith’s workshop with dwelling above, but has now been carefully and sympathetically restored. It’s granite hewn walls reside next to a forbidding bog topped by blackthorns leaning away from the seaborne wind. There’s an old well in the grounds and the glowering torrs of Carn Galva look down from above. It is a place steeped in history and sense of place with a definite character that is surprisingly welcoming – I love this sort of place. We spent Christmas 2012 here with constant wind and rain battering the sturdy walls. The wind howled in the chimney and swirled around the roof trying to find a way in for most of the time we were there, it was a constant soundtrack to the holiday. I was recording a live improvised track with the Korg Monotron analogue synth late one night and could hear the wind howling through the headphones and mournful drones coming out of the Monotron. It seemed to be competing with the music, trying to be part of it, so I let it in and that is how this track came to be.
I will let the listener conjure up their own stories from the rest of the tracks. Each track does have a story and point of origin in the landscape, but you will have to navigate your own way from now on.
This EP is dedicated to Tess, who is no longer with us, but whose presence during field recording trips, holidays and recording sessions in the studio is very much a part of these tracks..
Four #embermusic artists to be featured tonight on stillstream.com – listen for Aethericfield Field, Green Divide, SkyFix and Savaran on “At Water’s Edge” 9pm PST. Hosted by Rebekkah Hilgraves, ‘At Water’s Edge’ looks into unexplored corners of ambient electronica to uncover beauty in unexpected places.
This weeks featured release is Observations by Savaran.
Savaran is Mark Walters from Wales in the UK. He is an electronic musician, sound designer and sound artist working in the ambient, electronic, electro-acoustic and experimental genres from his small home studio on the Welsh border near Shrewsbury. Mark also works as a full-time archaeologist. His music is inspired by the random daily events that life throws at you, landscapes, environment, atmosphere, astronomy, geology, past cultures, or just the indefinable need to make music. His constantly evolving musical output has been released on a number of labels over the last year including Hofa Media, Wasamix, Gradient Audio, Ember Music, FeedbackLoop and Somehow Recordings.
The Audio Gourmet EP Observations includes four tracks recorded between April and July 2011 which tend to explore a far more acoustic and organic sound than previous releases. Opening track The Jewelled Sea blends coastal field recordings made on holiday in Scotland with gentle ripples of processed and sequenced synthesizer sounds that provide a background swell for the minutiae of hydrophone derived flotsam and jetsam.
Inside Out was inspired by a rainy Sunday morning in Islington, London observing umbrella clad passers-by from a cosy hostelry and soaking up the sights and sounds of the street scene.
Lost in Conversation is a live improvised piece played over the complex crosstalk of multiple conversations in a busy restaurant.
1860 Redux revisits a phonautogram of the oldest song recording made by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville in April 1860. The song Au Clair de la Lune was sung by an unknown performer and the original lasts just 10 seconds. The faint warbling voice on the original is lost in a fog of hiss and distortion which makes it quite a difficult listen. I stretched and processed the sound with reverbs to create a gentle wash that fades in and out of this ambient track as a small homage and remix of the original achievement.