The Ice Spire

My latest piece of music is a long ambient piece that was inspired by a prompt at the Naviar Haiku project. They provide a weekly prompt of a haiku, set within a suitably atmospheric photograph, to which various musicians create music. Of these, a small selection of tracks are picked to form an album-length collection of music representing a set of Haikus. The piece I created, “The Ice Spire”, has just been included on the latest release from Naviar Records (the third compilation from the project so far). Please have a listen below as you read on!

The track is a slowly evolving piece that was written with the idea of walking through a snow-bound landscape and coming across an ‘ice spire’, which I think comes across quite well in the music. I took a new approach for this, first of all recording two sets of long notes using the EBow on my bouzouki. The EBow doesn’t always affect both of the strings in the set (the bouzouki has four sets of strings, the lower two of which are octaves apart) in the same way, so the note sometimes fades in and out between octaves over time. These two tracks were then fed through the iVCS3 iPad synthesiser, which is a software recreation of the legendary ‘Putney’ synth, full of really wonderful sound-mangling facilities. Both tracks were ‘played’ through the synth, interacting with the synth’s own oscillators, travelling through a fairly complex signal path that I was able to control as the sound evolved.

With these two electronically manipulated tracks as the starting point, I then added some sparse melodic lines to the piece, still sticking to just the bouzouki. You can hear strings beyond the bridge being tapped with a small wooden mallet to provide percussive effects as well as various harmonics, some use of a metal ‘bottleneck’ and a gentle traditional melody line, played with plectrum within the normal fretboard area. Considering that every sound you can hear in this piece comes from a single acoustic instrument, albeit one that is well and truly put through the electronic grinder, it has produced a pleasingly full result.

The whole album is available as a ‘pay what you like’ basis, through the Bandcamp player above. It will appear on my next instrumental album too, but I hope you enjoy the advance listen, as well as the other pieces on this album and the other from the Naviar project.