Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Daniel Patrick Quinn "Ridin' The Stang" 2005

The Unbroken Circle:
Artists such as Daniel Patrick Quinn give hope to a music industry which seems confused about the future and often exhausted. There is a generation of emerging artists such as this who are young but use on-line labels to distribute their music on their own label. They are therefore able to make music unrestricted by commercial considerations and stay true to their own inspirations and creative development. If they sell small quantities, this does not matter as they produce the albums when ordered and can take their time to develop as they like.

Daniel’s music is that rare thing - personal and unique in an industry which searches for such artists but then seeks to remove the very individuality that attracted them. On his previous album "Severed From The Land" and on this new one Daniel is able to fuse a sense of the ancient with a desire to progress. His music brings together traditional melodies, folk song and interest in landscape supported by electronic and drone instrumentation that produces a new music, beyond folk or ambient and into personal exploration. He is forming "The Rough Ensemble" to play his pieces live later this year which will be essential to see.

This is the kind of new ethnic music for imagined places that Brian Eno and Jon Hassell thought about. However the location of recording is East Lothian and the imagined place is the British landscape with the untold history and myths sitting within. It transcends any sense of the pseudo-archaic and instead produces a radical, authentic sometimes bawdy musical tapestry that evokes the landscape and our existence upon it. Daniel is only twenty four but is able to bring forward a sense of continuity, community and experience over ages in music entirely created by him which is both welcome and astonishing.

We start with "Northern" which combines hovering swirls of droning electronics, violins and finger clicks creating a positively vibrant opening swell of music. He then begins to intone in his dry northern English accent about the land and place. "those clear summer days, the first after the rain has gone, you can see for miles…." and "looking so precisely modelled, carefully contoured like there was some definite thought that went into these hills… the cars look tiny from up here". It's a wonderful combination of music and voice, like Mark E Smith of The Fall joining a communal fireside improvisation led by John Cale. Daniel talks about specific places, recognisable, talking as he travels "metal bridge in the last house before Rockcliffe Marsh and out to the Solway, past the boat house, I wonder who lives there? Over the border go towards Moffaft…"

"there are few signs of human habitation, where the hills lend an ancient aspect to your days, may the road rise to meet you".

It's beautiful, to this reviewer more moving in its informal observation than most poetry, words from the people about their own places. Next track is "The Burryman" which features Duncan Grahl speaking with Daniel and others about the South Queensferry leaf-costumed "green" man known as The Burryman covered in spikey burrs. Here the music is softer, accordion and violin woven into melodic repetitious electronics. Duncan speaks in his broad accent about the burryman going in the pubs and factories taking a drink. It's a relaxed dialogue over the music with lots of joking and laughs amongst those present. The listener feels as though they are sat in the pub, a fire roaring listening to this impromptu communal tale. Then Duncan talks about "Lammas" time, the time of change into harvest which connects to our own "Lammas Night Laments" music series nicely. "The Burryman is a hero… the children of the village are all scared to look at the Burryman, they just peek through their hands you know…." As the song progresses and the Burryman moves towards his duties the music grows with the calls and invocations of the group to encourage him on.

Our third piece is "Make Hay!" an instrumental that combines analogue synthesizers sounding like early Kraftwerk before their robotic phase and combining this with a haunting folk refrain. As it evolves the piece takes on a filmic quality as though Ennio Morricone was working with Ashley Hutchings. On pieces such as this, Daniel's music works as "circles" of repeating and evolving phrases. Their simplicity working as a strength allowing the central melodies to embed themselves into the listeners mind. We are soon then into "Clock House" which continues from the last track as an instrumental but this time more pensively with delicate guitar melodies over rumbling bass guitar and the accordion/violin drone.

After the subdued quality of the previous track the next arrives like a breath of clear early morning air, intoxicating and mixed to sound huge with banks of sustained keyboards and a bright melody. Daniel speaks his intro "they lived down here and they moved on" at the start of the track, "Channelkirk and the Surrounding Area". His voice is hypnotic and full of small laconic inflections, I could listen all day. This piece is quite amazing in it’s beauty, uncompromising, genuinely mysterious and raw. This is where the hope for the music industry lays, at the heart of this music which fuses the old and that yet to come.

"Rough Music" starts with a moody, mysterious minor air and the lyrics more strident "well if I was minded about these guys, mind I'd like to see the bastards locked up". It feels like a manifesto, a statement of rejection and defiance to targets unknown. The spoken refrain of "Ridin' the Stang" seeming both a promise and threat as it is menacingly intoned.

"Over and Over" continues the moody instrumental quality at first before an electric violin and guitar come in with a lighter melody, lifting the piece but retaining the tension. Surging layers of synthesizer weave into the music taking it from the land to an almost cosmic level of exploration, music that is beyond influences and into new realms of its own. It is clear as we listen that Daniel is not so much interested in preserving the land as it was, but in exploring it now, changed but still pivotal to our lives, our footsteps weaving new layers of history over the old.

All too soon we have reached the eighth and final track called "The Ennerdale Fence" which is a kind of hazy, dreamt communal folk song. It has an insistent beat but vocals that fade in and out with the drone reaching a raga like intensity. The instruments fuse into surging union with electric guitars ringing out over the top. Somehow it seems to fulfil the forgotten promise of a uniquely British psychedelic music created on Pink Floyd's "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" and then forgotten for decades. But here, here we have it reborn. British melodies, folk and the surreal combine once more into music that reaches outside time and into the heart of this land as a brief fuzzed electric guitar squall leads back to our summer slumbers.

Like all the most inspired and inspirational music, Daniel's transcends its influences and genres expressing an aspect of musical creation not heard elsewhere. Recommending this music does not really do justice to how quietly essential it is. I found it connected with some instinct and shared memory deep inside, an element of British experience that none of us can express but many feel. Music from and about the land and our communities, Daniel's music simply demands to be heard.


Blogger J Thyme...kind said...

It's the folk record I always wanted from Johnny Lydon or Mark E. Smith.

26 December, 2006 10:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is so good, thankyou!!

01 January, 2007 17:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you may be interested to hear what i'm up to at present....


24 February, 2007 02:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance of re-upping this one? I recently bought a copy of the Isle of Grain album by One More Grain (which is fantastic) and would love to hear some more of Daniel's work,,,

18 July, 2010 01:50  

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