The Mutual Imagination Society Vol I

  1. 1.Suite #1

Instrumentation:    Accordions, Violins, Bass, Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitar, Trombones, French Horn, Piano, Percussion

                    From the very first note to the last, this is an epic journey. Each new movement written to reflect exactly where the music had taken me. In many ways it is the whole album in one track. Ambitious, dynamic, full of emotional swings - from fragile reflection to powerful celebration and back again. This track was the showcase and in many respects the proving ground for the album.

  1. 2.Dm Minor Air

Instrumentation:   Accordion, Harmonium, Piano, Bass, Percussion, Trombones, Vocals

                    This started life as a slow air which transpired, as much of the compositions did, to bring peace and a feeling of calm. The horns and handclaps were the finishing touch as they brought a self assured groove and the concept that it’s possible to communicate uplifting positivity even in quiet reflection.

  1. 3.Blue Box

Instrumentation:   Accordions, Violins, Piano, Bass

                     Blue Box was composed from the dreamlike panning of the multi layered accordion. A feeling of floating in time and space was created giving way to the piano leading the strings through the next weightless section while setting up the introduction of a melody on the accordion. There was a temptation to repeat the accordion melody but I decided that this piece should reach its conclusion without more development. The final wide string and accordion chords suggest strength in the quiet power of tranquility.

  1. 4.Hard Pressed

Instrumentation:   Accordions, Violins, Piano, Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Percussion

                     This track was written for Gordon Duncan - a maestro of the Great Highland Bagpipe and one of our most treasured composers. In Session A9 we feature many of his compositions and I have found that when performing his piece The Sleeping Tune, I find myself frequently recalling a journey from Strathdon to Pitlochry with Gordon. Hard Pressed was written as a homage to him and as a soundtrack to that memorable drive, through the breathtaking land he was so familiar with.

  1. 5.November 6th

Instrumentation:   Accordion, Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Trombones, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Vocals

                       The beginning of this piece starts with a cleansing introduction leading to a preview of what would become its final section. A simple piano melody played over a drone interrupts the progression as we wander through an imaginary Scottish landscape. Here I’m trying to bring to mind the wide space and feeling that we are but passing through this beautiful country we call home. It’s a feeling I have grown accustomed to as I drive through the majestic highlands of Scotland. I find it reassuring to feel part of something so much greater than myself. In the strong, yet silent power of our country I find reassurance and optimism. That optimism and strength shows itself through the ever growing repeats of the final section as it builds to a soaring conclusion with the horns, voices and handclaps. The final horn line, added by Rick Taylor gives way to a breakdown as we settle back to the comforting peace and solitude of the end.

  1. 6.Blue Grass

Instrumentation:   Accordions, Violins, Trombones, Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Percussions, 5-string Banjo, Piano

                        It will come as no surprise after listening to this track that the beginning is full of darkness and fear. The undulating breaths of the accordion bass drone and the long build up of strings and voices are menacing. The horns enter adding power to the dark storm environment. Throughout this repeated section the insistence of the acoustic guitars reassures that we are moving through this towards the light. We move onwards with energy and a positive drive. The banjo and accordion lead us with speed to a new landscape in a minor reel. Of course the feeling from the beginning has to make a reappearance but this time we dispel it as the melody becomes freer and playing in harmony. By the end we are strong, confident and the horns have joined us in this new-found optimism.

  1. 7.Essing

Instrumentation:   Piano, Accordion, Bass, Percussion, Chinese Hammered Dulcimer, 5-string Banjo, Synth

                       I’m a fan of the film The Big Blue. Essing is my journey to the depths of the ocean and the idea of free diving, reaching unimaginable depths without oxygen - a brief but exceptional visit to another world.

  1. 8.Piobroch

Instrumentation:   Piano, Accordions

                        This is of course not a Piobroch. The radio is still a frequent companion on my travels. I have found myself many times driving with Gary West and Pipeline (BBC Radio Scotland) providing the musical soundtrack. I like the pipes. On occasion I have wandered into Piobroch territory. It can get you when you least expect it. One minute your are listening to a march, strathspey and reel - the next you are in a hypnotic world of repeated phrases and form, to my uneducated ear anyway. I used that notion here. This was written while my partner was at a funeral. I wanted to communicate the feeling of sadness and loss, while at the same time celebrate the life, albeit taken too soon. There is a beauty in sadness. Our traditional music does that so well. Here I tried to be mindful of tradition, form and express power, beauty and celebrate absent friends.

  1. 9.The Tumbler

Instrumentation:   Brush, Piano, Accordion, Bass, Percussion, Soprano Sax

                        The Tumbler started life as a commission. The title came from watching a beautiful sequence of play - tumbling by a mother and her two children. My two girls joined in and instead of being caught up in the laughter and euphoria, I began to see the whole thing in slow motion. A perfect moment - carefree, secure and full of love. As a parent you hold dear those moments when your kids smile one of those caught up in the moment smiles without a care in the world. This tune became the soundtrack to that slow tumbling, full of beauty, optimism and bursting with love.   

  1. 10.Perth to Glasgow

Instrumentation:   Accordions, Piano, Trombones, Violins, Acoustic Guitars, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Bagpipes

                        The move from my family home in Perth to begin a new life in Glasgow was not an easy one. This track was written to express this life-changing event. Starting with a “pipe-like” accordion melody this lament draws support from the horns and strings to lead us to a slow reel on the piano. This had to reach an almost impossible high. It had to. It turns out Glasgow is brilliant. It saved me and it introduced me to my partner Fiona. Every year we go to “The Worlds” where we listen to the best pipe bands in the world accompanied in spirit by Fiona’s late Dad. The tune had to end with that kind of power - that sentiment. I think it does. Magnificent piping, soaring strings and thunderous horns.

  1. 11.Soundtrack to Peace

Instrumentation:   Piano, Violins, Bass, Percussion, Synth, Bells

                           This album is all about journeys. It’s all about freeing your mind from the day to day and allowing it access to your own emotions - your own images. Soundtrack to Peace was written to clear the head and recharge the soul.