Isles of the West
Next Friday (20th Sept), I’ll be taking off for Wester Ross and the Western Isles of Scotland for a couple of weeks with Tom Western, Hanna Tuulikki, Drew Wright (Wounded Knee) and folks from Screen Bandita to play some music to accompany archive 16mm films.
I’ll be accompanying two films. First, ‘Isles of the West' (1939), which surveys herring fishing, crofting, spinning and gatherings across Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist, Eriskay and Barra. It's an interesting film, with some beautiful shots, narrated, perhaps, from an outsider's perspective. Tom Western and I will be playing sine wave drones and open tuned guitar alongside some bits of sampled audio from the film to accompany.
Second, Tom, Drew and I will play a semi-improvised accompaniment to ‘A Cruise to St. Kilda and the Western Isles' (1929), the travelogue of a voyage by the SS Hebrides from Broomielaw, Glasgow to St. Kilda via Iona, Skye, Harris and Lewis. Shot shortly before the final evacuation of St. Kilda in 1930, this film is a fascinating document of the last years of the dwindling community on this remote Atlantic outcrop.
With eagleowl and pals from Meursault, Broken Records and Nap Sholty, I’ve been writing for Sarah Kenchington’s ‘Wind Pipes for Edinburgh' at the Edinburgh Art Festival. The pipes are incredible, and are open to the public daily at Trinity Apse, just off the Royal Mile. We'll be performing there on 26th August from 1900 hours.
15 Aug in London (solo) - Upset the Rhythm with Michael Chapman, Cut Hands and more -http://www.upsettherhythm.co.uk/
29 Aug in Edinburgh (band) - Pale Imitation Festival with Hanna Tuulikki and David Orphan (Finders Keepers / Folklore Tapes) DJ set - https://www.facebook.com/events/574018662639963/?ref=22
Water of Life
‘Water of Life’ is a new art-science collaboration between Tommy Perman – a visual and sound artist – and Rob St. John – an environmental scientist, writer and musician - which will explore and map the flows of water through Edinburgh. Funded by Creative Scotland as part of the Year of Imagining Natural Scotland, ‘Water of Life’ will produce drawings, photographs, writing and sound to add new perspectives to some key debates in current environmentalism, centered around the role of water in Edinburgh’s urban environments and our daily lives.
We will draw from art, geography and environmental science to explore issues of: what constitutes a ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ urban river ecosystem; the varying ecosystem services provided by different flows of water through urban environments; and ever evolving issues of water supply, aquatic habitat conservation and flood management schemes for Edinburgh’s water networks.
The project takes the starting point that at every scale - from humans to otters, from trout to tiny diatoms - we are bodies of water linked by living in the city and linked by our pipelines, rivers, sewers and drains. Through our work, we hope to encourage a personal connection and interaction with urban environments ‘close to home’ and foster an increased awareness of issues of conservation and sustainability.
May Day 1913 celebrations at Stocks in Bowland, Lancashire. Stocks and its neighbouring village Dalehead were submerged under the Stocks Reservoir in 1933.
The “mortuary chapel”, Stocks. This was moved brick-by-brick by the water board when Stocks was flooded, and exists in its new location to this day.
“Some 150 bodies were exhumed during 1927 and reburied in the new graveyard, including 30 unknown bodies which were buried in a special mass grave.
“The Water Board offered £15 to any family that were willing to move their own relatives’ bodies but I couldn’t say how many took ‘em up on it. If you didn’t move the bodies then the Water Board would do it anyway…” (G. Robinson)
The exhumations took place, as is traditional, at “dead of night” between midnight and 4am. It is reported that the workers involved in this task were well fortified with rum, but that the work was carried out with great decorum and respect for the dead.
Although it was felt that it was not needed as a church as there was no longer much of a congregation, some local people expressed a wish to be buried there and so the Fylde Water Board rebuilt St. James’ as a Mortuary Chapel.”
Free show in London on Thursday (6th) night. Amy Cutler’s ‘Hallaig’ exhibition looks grand.
On Thursday 13th June I’ll be performing a soundtrack to the 1939 film 'Isles of the West' at the Royal Anthropological Institute International Festival of Ethnographic Film at the Playfair Library, Edinburgh.
This is part of the ongoing Screen Bandita Rebel Landscapes project, and will also include performances by Alasdair Roberts, Wounded Knee and Cath & Phil Tyler.
Screen Bandita Presents: Rebel Landscapes
The Rebel Landscapes programme is drawn from the National Library of Scotland’s extensive archive and Screen Bandita have curated films that explore themes relating specifically to folklore. Local traditions, dances, crafts, fishing, crofting and music all feature, as does the landscape. But in addition to the unquestionable beauty of Scottish vistas, we wanted to represent the flip-side of the coin: the brutality of natural processes and the trials faced by the rural dwellers who struggled to draw a living from the land.
We wanted to avoid the blind reverence and nostalgia that is endemic to most archive-themed events, and have challenged our musical collaborators to create soundtracks that would not just jauntily accompany the films, but actively interact with the images to tease out a particular strand of meaning or follow a wild, unexpected tangent.
We project the programme from archival 16mm prints, believing that the aesthetic inherent in actual reels of film offers a very tangible and direct sense of connection with the people and places etched into the faded celluloid. We very much hope this dynamic fusion of ideas, themes and visuals will also provoke reflection on the part of the viewer.
The event is a ‘tip of the hat’ to folklore in all of its many manifestations, but crucially it is a celebration of the forgotten faces and unspoken lives of ‘ordinary’ people, whose existences and ways now appear alien, distant and utterly extraordinary. It is an opportunity for a contemporary audience to bring their enthusiasm to the continuation of the strong, sturdy legacy of Scottish folklore, archival film and the rebellious, rambunctious music of the people.
At the weekend, Tom and I will be playing undersea cable drones, echoing shotgun recordings and fractured snatches of birdsong at Field Day festival, and wittering a bit about it all.