It’s 6 months since we released our debut studio album Tidal Patterns on1631 Recordings. Here’s a track by track guide to the album:
The Dawn Chorus
We knew that we wanted to start the album with a song called The Dawn Chorus as this is the first sound that you can hear upon waking up on most days in this area of Scotland. Andy incorporated some field recordings of the actual dawn chorus into this.
This beginning section of this song actually started out as a link section for somewhere in the middle of the album but when we listened back we thought it had potential to become something more. The brass parts for this was all recorded separately and not placed together until Andy Bush had worked on it. He also added the upbeat bass synth and percussion parts at the end to lift the final part of the song.
Bizarrely we wrote the piano and kalimba parts for this in isolation from each other and when we met up the parts fitted together perfectly in terms of notes and rhythm. Maybe it was some kind of twin telepathy. The cornet parts were recorded in Andy’s cottage on the Isle of Coll and the voice is Mike talking about the parts he is going to play.
The title refers to the time that the ferry leaves from Oban to travel across to the island.
This is the first song that we recorded for the album and the one that we were initially going to have as the album opener. It started life as a short piano motif that is played at the start and we fleshed it out from there. We wanted the end to have a real orchestral feel so it is built around a load of cornet parts and cymbals as well as piano and synths.
The song takes its name from a flight that Andy took from Oban to Coll in windy conditions. There is a drone that serves as the plane’s engine and the song increases in intensity as the aircraft comes in to land. The cymbals in the last part represent the waves hitting off the rocks of the island.
We had written the main theme of this song early on in the process but had struggled to find the right fit for it in the album. Initially it was piano led but after some thought we decided to use strings. Andy wrote and arranged the viola and cello parts which were recorded by the talented Nichola Kerr and Rachel Wilson. Mike’s cornet melody and harmony part were then added to finish off the song. After recording we ran the track through Andy Bush’s Watkins Copicat to give the track a more atmospheric feel.
The song is named after the area in the Shipping Forecast in which the Isle of Coll sits.
Lonban at Dawn
This was one of the first ideas written for the album. The demo was recorded in an isolated farmhouse called Lonban originally as a solo piano piece based around the field recording that you hear at the beginning of the track. The field recording is of 2 contact mics attached to an old horse box that’s door rattled against it in the wind giving a nice percussive sound. In the studio we deconstructed the piano part and stripped it back to it’s basics and augmented the piano notes with cello. We also introduced a sub-bass part halfway through the song as well as a freeze guitar part.
Lonban at Dusk
The song was written as a companion piece to Lonban at Dawn. Andy improvised the piano part in the studio. We put this song at the mid-point of the album as it gave the record a lift and creates a feel of hope. Mike used the same freeze guitar part for this as in Lonban at Dawn.
The name taken from ‘Dark Skies’ status of Coll (there are no street lights on the island), the track opens with a electro magnetic recording of Andy’s macbook using a coil pick up. A simple piano melody with brass introduces the main part of the song that builds up into a full string score. Andy again wrote and arranged the cello and viola parts which Rachel and Nichola recorded perfectly.
Another track from the album that uses an Isle of Coll field recording. This time it was a recording from inside a cattle shed on a windy evening. A loose panel was rattling and created a great percussive sound, which we then sampled and used as a snare sound in the song. The second half of the song is built around Mike’s ebow guitar part.
This song was always intended to be the final track on the album and so we tried to create a kind of uplifting feel to it, particularly in the last big section when all of the instruments come together. We wanted to create a picture of a late night party out under the stars – something that always happened on the island in the summer. We included the last section with the piano as a kind of reflective coda to both the song and the album.