Hotline is a suite of new music written, rehearsed and recorded on the Argyllshire coast.
The catalyst was again Gordon MacLean at An Tobar Arts Centre who through the PRS for Music Foundation's New Music 20x12 scheme commissioned me to write a piece which linked Argyll to the London 2012's Cultural Olympiad.
I considered how the focus of the world would be on London through 2012 and how, through modern telecommunications, the rest of the planet could easily experience the Olympic Games.
This lead to me to remember my Dad explaining that there was a building, built during the Cold War just outside Oban, which housed a cable that connected the world. This was the cable landing station for TAT-1, the first submarine telephone transatlantic cable, which carried the Moscow-Washington hotline between the American and Soviet heads of state. The cable terminal was buried deep inside a massive cliff face, accessed through a series of bomb-proof doors and was designed to withstand an atom bomb.
We got access to this building and some of the music as recorded within the massive chambers.
This music was inspired by the TAT-1 project as a feat of engineering, the feelings I had growing up on the Argyll coast and also the knowledge of the area’s significant link to the Cold War.
The music is folk based, which is always my melodic cornerstone but ever present is my love of improvisation, polyrhythms and electronics. It is in many ways a continuation of the compositional path I began in An Tobar in 2007. It leans further into the enclave of jazz than my music with Lau and Kan but I feel it’s a folk record at heart. Avant-folk. Post-folk. Cold-war inspired folk-jazz? Call it what you like.
Thanks to my guest musicians who collaborated selflessly and greatly helped shape my ideas.
Catriona McKay, Scottish Harp
Phil Bancroft, Saxophone
Martin O’Neill, Bodhran and percussion
Paul Harrison, Piano and synths