Nearly There

Hens / Studio Window

It's been too long... many apologies to those of you who have been following progress on my I'Anson record.

It's been an interesting time since my last blog - working on various projects for other people that I hadn't foreseen, and continuing work on the I'Anson music when I have been able. It's funny that despite best made plans, unexpected random events conspire to improve things - and the delays have resulted in some special new doors opening - bringing additional elements to the music; a travelling american trumpeter, learning to play a lovely old mandolin, and a new female voice adding some harmonies to my singing.

Every year the Isle of Jura hosts a traditional music festival. On the opening evening there is an open mic session and a woman I didn't know got up to sing a traditional Irish song for what must have been just a few minutes. She immediately made an impact on me and, a few weeks later when asking around I discovered that she lived on the neighbouring island of Oronsay. Initially this seemed convenient, although actually, travel arrangements between Oronsay and Jura in the winter are rather challenging! However, logistical arrangements were made (boats and planes) and despite predictable storms, Izzy Baker made it to Jura and has added some lovely vocal textures to the record. Izzy relates to the whole remote island thing - in fact she has a much greater claim to living remotely - Oronsay being only accessible from it's immediate neighbour Colonsay twice a day at low tide! As well as the recording it was a lovely experience just sitting in the kitchen and singing the songs through with Izzy.

I'm now in the process of making the final mixes prior to mastering - at last! It has been an amazing journey for me, firstly coming to Jura in the first place, then building the house, writing the music, and finally the process of recording and mixing. Prior to starting the record I thought I had a pretty good grasp of recording and mixing from previous experience, but my quest to get the right sound for I'Anson has resulted in a massive amount of learning. We've gone pretty much totally analogue in the studio - just following my ears - the acoustic instrumentation demanding the clarity and warmth of more old school equipment. Some of this equipment seems to defy logic in what it what it can achieve - and so the only way really, is to try and try again, and gradually learn the ropes. I favour this approach anyway in general - although it is obviously miles more time consuming. It has been like an apprenticeship learning a craft, and although I'm quite sure I've got a lot lot more to learn, to my ears the sounds are finally falling into place. I certainly have a massive respect for the often overlooked sound engineers who put all these records that we buy together - it really is an art in itself.

I have a seemingly willing and attentive audience for my work. The winter animal life of Knockrome - chickens, cows, sheep and Louis the cat vie for place outside the studio window while I am working. The minute I start every morning the chickens make an appearance on the window sill - the cockerels sometimes cock-a-doodle-doing so enthusiastically that I can't actually hear what I'm doing. On a good day, with the winter sun streaming in, I still have to pinch myself that I am here, finishing my music inside the old cottage.

But it has been long enough now, the music is just about ready, and so I'm looking forward to sharing it with some perhaps more discerning beings than the Knockrome animals.  Mastering will be done in London in February followed by the usual promo/press period prior to release but we'll try to get everything done asap. Release dates will be announced when they are finalised and we'll take it from there.

Happy 2013 from Jura - I hope it will be a good year for all of us!


Hugh Carswell