Far Headland

Track listing:

1) Low Furness   (5’ 48)

2) Sandscale Haws   (5’ 22)

3) Drumlins   (14’ 10)

4) Haematite   (7’ 59)

5) Urswick Cross   (4’ 43)

6) Pure Chants   (8’ 19)

7) Windhover   (3’ 18)

8) Stars above the Mist   (4’ 53)

 

Low Furness. This represents a NW – SE cross-section of the Furness peninsula from the Duddon estuary to Morecambe Bay, shoreline to shoreline, cutting through Dalton close to St Helen’s church. I use a variety of instruments and sound effect layers to create a pastoral feel

Sandscale Haws. Sandscale Haws is partly owned by the National Trust, representing one of England's largest and most important sand dune systems. Sandscale Haws is home to a variety of rare species of wildlife, including a thriving population of natterjack toads. The huge, open bay and the grassland stretching behind it gives Sandscale Haws a feeling of space, light and air, making it a bracing venue for walks. The landscape is packed with interest. Stone axes have been retrieved from the area, and there is evidence of iron workings. This track links back to my previous album, Shoreline, which was conceived after walks along Walney Island, and is reflected in the sole use of the Roland EG101

Drumlins. Drumlins are a feature of glacial deposition, and have a distinct shape, with a steep (stoss) end, which was nearest to the source of the ice, and a more gentle lee slope, which becomes shallower as you move further away from the source of the ice. Drumlins are often more than a kilometre in length, 500m wide and reach a height of over 50m. Low Furness boasts a swarm of drumlins, including the collapsed Yarlside, exposing a cross-section of till littered with boulders of different sizes. This piece is composed of different sections (Boulder Clay/Rain on a Westerly/Yarlside/Direct Ascent/Boulder Clay reprise) written and recorded at different times using a variety of instruments to represent the swarm of drumlins

Haematite. Haematite is an iron oxide ore, and the ore of Furness was of a particularly high quality, with an iron content of between 50-65%. The richer ore was generally located in small intrusions in the local carboniferous limestone, known as sops. Some of the deposits were formed of successive layers, giving the impression that they had been injected into veins of rock in a boiling state. The soil around Yarlside is coloured red from the rich source of haematite mined there, and it is still possible to pick out small examples of kidney-ore from the Yarlside area. This track was played on the Roland, using the internal memory to provide a backing track, then playing and recording chords over the top. The mysterious feel represents the formation of iron deposits in the surrounding rock

Urswick Cross. St Mary’s church in Great Urswick is the oldest church in the Furness area, dating back to the 10th century, and houses two separate remains of pre-Norman crosses. Both of the pieces are from the shafts of crosses, the larger piece appears to be from the early tenth century, and in addition to carvings of saints on the front side, there is a runic inscription "Tunwini set after Torhtred a monument to his lord. Pray for his soul". The back of the cross has a scene interpreted as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This piece is well preserved, as it had previously been used as building material at some stage in the past, and was discovered beneath some plaster in 1911 when renovations were in progress at the church. The smaller fragment is believed to come from near the top of a cross-shaft. This is another Roland track

Pure Chants. This track is now 25 years old, and is revisited and reworked because it fits in with the Low Furness theme. This was inspired by visits to Birkrigg Common and the Druid’s Circle, situated above the village of Bardsea and overlooking Morecambe Bay.

This stone circle has evidence of having been used for burial. Cremated human remains were found in 1921. It is comprised of two concentric circles with 31 stones of up to 1m high, and is 29m in diameter at its widest point. The original track evolved out of a jam session with John Carrott (keyboards), Bill Burford (drums), and myself (bass) in 1978. The addition of Elaine Hart (vocals) to the band meant we had to come up with some song words. The main theme (Alpha Rhythm) evoked ritual, so I wrote the Birkrigg Stone Circle tune to go with some pre-existing poetry, continuing the ritual theme. This track resurfaced in 1984 for a series of live performances by BCC2 (with Eric Whitton on guitar and Alistair Penny on keyboards. I played bass and keyboards and took on the role of vocalist.) This 2003 version features a new introduction (Solstice Song), improvised around the Birkrigg Stone Circle tune, and utilises a wide range of instruments, including a rig of wind chimes

Windhover. Windhover is a common name for the European kestrel, Falco tinnunculus so called because of the bird’s ability to hover around 10m in the air at a stationary locus, even in a headwind. It is also the name of my brother’s house near Ulverston, surrounded by countryside where farmers build nesting boxes for the kestrel, which feeds on a variety of small mammals such as voles and acts as a form of natural pest control. This version is a single cut. The original version was lost after a PC software problem, and was to have lasted around 8 minutes. There are other longer versions, each recorded in a single take, but only one of these is of an acceptable standard. I deliberately set out to write a melodic track, influenced by 1970s Camel. This is another Roland EG101-only piece

Stars above the Mist. The effect of temperature inversion is responsible for mist-filled valleys with clear night skies above. The valleys between the drumlins of Low Furness could be filled with dense fog, but a climb up Abbot’s Wood Hill or Yarlside would often leave the sea of mist and fog below. The skies above Furness are excellent for stargazing, with no street lighting on the road past the abbey heading towards Yarlside. This track was recorded in a ‘Radiohead’ moment. The guitar has been sampled, plied with effects and reversed. In fact almost all the layers of tracks are played in reverse, with the wind chimes representing the emission of light from the myriad of stars

Windhover

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