I’ve just started a new project in partnership with Timespan, a wonderful arts/heritage center in Helmsdale, a small village in the north of Scotland.
I’ll be spending some time in Helmsdale, with the ambitious aim of trying to record a snippet of sound from every musical instrument in the village. I’ll then edit all of these recordings and use them to make some new music.
I’m currently on my way back home after my first stint. It was very rewarding indeed, both in terms of the sounds I was able to record as well as the general welcoming warmth extended to my wife and me. Everyone was enthusiastic about the project, and I got all sorts of tips about various musical instruments hidden around the town. Whilst recording a piano in one home, the owners mentioned that there was a small chapel 9 miles out of town that had an antique pump organ. Naturally, I had to go have a look.
My wife and I hopped on our bikes the next day, and enjoyed a beautiful ride to Kildonan Farm, where we found the chapel and the fantastic American organ.
I made some recordings for the project and I couldn’t resist making a video of the old Seznec Bros tune “Promised Land”:
The song seemed fitting, as the chapel and churchyard is full of commemorations of the Highland Clearances, when hundreds of local farmers in Kildonan were forced off the land. Many of them emigrated to the promised land of Winnipeg, and the area retains strong links to Canada, with Canadian and Scottish flags both hanging in the chapel.