So only 5 months after it’s release I am finally getting around to putting this up on the site. Man it’s been a crazy autumn / winter. CRAZY! ULTRA CRAZY!
THE SEER. The Brahan Seer, a soothsayer, a prophet, a farm loon, a legend. Fèis Rois has leant amazing support to me and Lauren MacColl – fiddle and composer extraordinaire – to work on this project. The last commission I did for Fèis Rois was based around the voyage of Hector [see here…] with music by my old pal John Somerville. Both projects have turned out to be ones that I am very proud of. Not only artistically but culturally. Projects like these have a historical brevity which it is a privilege to draw from. Inspiration is not hard to find in such rich and torrid stories.
This project started with a snowy, two day expedition to Easter Ross to find and document the places that Coinneach Odhar, prophesied on, places he hung out and the place where he was burnt to a crisp in a spiked barrel of tar. Some way to go eh? I love these wee expeditions, I just get my camera, look at the map and then wander aimlessly until something strikes me. The most memorable wander was definitely around Loch Ussie, the sun was splitting the sky, the road was pretty dicey with 3 inches of snow on it and around the loch I fell over so repetitiously, perhaps this is why it sticks in my head. The falling over… The shore of the loch is wooded and a tangle of roots which cascade into the water, which was partially frozen, I got wet and cold, it was fun. He chucked his adder stone in there but I never found it.
Lauren has totally nailed the tunes on this album. ‘And Sheep will eat Men / Brahan’ is a total banger, that second tune like; WHAT A CLASSIC! So driving, so highland. The music was recorded in Cromarty by my band mate and life long friend Barry (spad) Reid and it sounds lush, live and genuine. Lauren has perhaps one of the finest ‘Cailleach’ tones of all the fiddle players, it is also worth noting that the line up on this album (apart from James) was all female. And such a fine line up of gallus and infinitely competent women it is. The music conveys so much of the Coinneach Odhar’s story, his troubles, the magic and his untimely end at the hands of those famously tyrannical MacKenzies (please note I am a MacDonald, so this is definitely a kettle calling the pot black). I advise that you but the album and listen to track 7 very loud over some sort of mountain road, it totally works!
I also had the firm pleasure of going on a wee tour with the band, doing live visuals for the album tour and it was mighty craic. I must extend my heart felt gratitude to them all and in particular the drummer James Mackintosh for being so ultimately sound and supportive. I was experiencing some heavy life changes at the time and to have such high quality friends around is something that cannot be understated. Also big shout out to Thor and Kitty for modelling for me.