All Copyright Brian McAlpine 2018

I've been involved in well over 60 albums to date and the question of a solo album has come up many times. My response? -  that I would wait until I had something personal to say - a narrative that would allow me to create a body of work that was uniquely me.

The last 10 years has brought some really significant events that have had a huge impact on my life. Don't get me wrong, there's good in there alongside the challenges, but all together they have changed the way I look at the world and the way that I look at myself.

The idea of writing a body of music to work through some of these challenges became a really positive route towards expressing these emotions. It gave me a mechanism to turn some difficult feelings into something positive and hopefully enable me to reclaim the person that I now am.

Each composition was, from the very first note, written to deal with a particular situation. The journey through each piece was directed by the emotive result of the previous section.

For example, track 6 - 'Blue Grass' - began with a really intense feeling of pressure and fear. The track ended up being a two-part journey. As the first part began to reach its intense climax, it began to release the initial feelings to such an extent that it approached a junction. At that point I felt like I had been freed and was motivated by this new energy to write more to communicate the change that had occurred. The second movement demonstrates the newfound energy that had been released and it fast became an uplifting mood - proving to me that this method of writing was indeed having positive results.

Other tracks became a clear demonstration of the ability we all have through music, to celebrate inner struggle, allowing the full expression of sadness but in a context of beauty and celebration. I believe that there is beauty in sadness and positivity in being able to communicate this.

From the very start I wanted to have the ability to make a huge sound - to bring orchestral strings and horns to my solo contributions. In order to make the music fully communicate the scale of emotions in the composition, I had my heart set on some big arrangements. That was always going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome. This was a solo work. Every day in the studio was just me, myself and I. It was obvious that I would need help with strings and brass.

I wrote the brass parts with my friend Rick Taylor in mind. Having worked with Rick in many musical situations, I loved his trombone arrangements. Each note for the brass was written with an imaginary Rick as my companion. I recorded versions of all the work with samples and then he replaced them with the real thing - it is impossible to communicate the huge impact of a human touch gives to arrangements. His ability to understand my intention, translate to real horn playing and to bring the notes to life with his expressive and technical ability blew my mind.

You'll also find french horns on 'Suite #1'.  Nic Bullivant generously played these. A man I have yet to meet, brought to the project by Rick - how amazing is that? I am so thankful.

I wanted to paint pictures with sound. The strings needed to be big, wide and symphonic. Having tried unsuccessfully to gain album funding, I became determined not to let this stand in my way. Without the time and talent of Jonny Hardie and Alison Smith, these strings would not exist. They brought the string arrangements to life and allowed me to write more parts inspired by their beautiful sound. Each line was 'tracked' at least 6 times to give the wide string soundscape I needed. The patience and skill they gave to these arrangements took the tracks to a new level of beauty.

Track 9 -'The Tumbler' -was written as an accordion and saxophone duet. I went straight to the very best. Nigel Hitchcock. When you listen to his playing it is obvious that he understood the very heart of what the track meant. Both accordion and saxophone work together in perfect harmony. What else would you expect from one of the finest saxophone players in the world?

Track 10 -'Perth to Glasgow'- was written to work through a life changing journey. As the track progressed through composition and arrangement, it became obvious that I needed more help. The World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow are a firm favourite of my partner Fiona and I. It became clear that I needed to bring part of that occasion to this track to bring it to closure. The confidence given to me by Rick, Jonny and Alison played a huge part in my decision to ask five of Scotland's finest pipers to play on this track. I am forever grateful to Ross Ainslie, Finlay MacDonald, Scott Wood, Calum MacCrimmon and James Duncan MacKenzie for bringing their mastering of the pipes to this track.

I think that there is a tangible feeling of positivity in the music as a result of the contributions given so generously by my fantastic ten musicians. I feel it whenever I hear them play. The goodwill is tangible.

The Mutual Imagination Society became the music of my soul. It is a genuine reflection of who I am as a composer. Every note - every change and development was driven by self-introspection and observation. It is the soundtrack to my life up until now.

I have a debt of gratitude to everyone involved with the completion of this work. To Gordon Gunn for the incredible music mastering, Steven Gordon for the cover photograph and to Colin Keldie for fixing my artwork mistakes.

If you like this music, pass it on. Let me know.

Brian McAlpine Oct 2018