Martyn Bennett - Bothy Culture

Martyn Bennett: Martyn Bennett

Written in Edinburgh in 1995, this self–titled album is my first venture into the world of electronica and cross-over. Prior to this, I had been involved with Martin Swan and had recorded a couple of tracks on his album Mouth Music.

As well listening to DJs in the Edinburgh club scene, working with Swan was probably the biggest initial influence for me. It gave me the insight I needed to explore technology and traditional music within the same grounds, but more importantly it was like a voice of consent - it gave me the courage to step forward with my own ideas in the knowledge that there was, at least, one person who understood my wish to graft two contrasting forms of music.

Recorded and mixed in just seven days, I listen to this album now with a hidden smile. Yes, I can hear the limitations of my knowledge of electronics and the small amount of equipment I had at my disposal, but this album, for me, is like a child. It’s full of fun and abandon. It does not care about the 'correctness' of the sounds or complexity of arrangement, it only cares about energy and light.

I often wish I could repeat that energy now, but it was the energy of the moment. An energy of being unknown, an energy of no expectations, and an energy of being in love.

Notes on Martyn Bennett tracks

his four part Irish reel was taught to me by Cathal McConnel, the great Irish flute player from Fermanagh (see links). The opening intro contains a strain of the first part in isorhythm (slowed to half speed).

Very much influenced by The Bothy Band who I regard as being the finest Irish traditional group ever. They were produced exclusively by Donal Lunny in the late seventies and early eighties (see links). The opening tune is called 'Farewell to Erin' and very much a disputed tune as regards to origin, I therefore thought a Didge would do the job on the bass line.

What can I say: a contrasting, gentle, magnificent and terrifying mountain range on Skye; a journey that never ends; my most valued symbol of the female form Yin and male Yang. This set of new tunes is split into two parts which unfold towards the same goal - a rare view of the Cuillin shrouded in the mist.

A title of a song by 1930s Scottish Megastar Sir Harry Lauder. Although I can’t say I particularly 'like' what Lauder did, he was as big in his day as Michael Jackson - and he was Scottish. I did a remix of this track on Hardland called Harry’s in Heaven. Up yours Sir Harry!

FLORET SILVA UNDIQUE [All around the flowers are in bloom]
This lovely poem was written by Hamish Henderson. This exceptionally gifted man is, for many, the most important figure of the twentieth century in terms of Scottish culture. He has collected a wealth of Scottish folklore and written volumes on its heritage. He is also a great poet and song-smith and has written such great songs as Freedom Come All Ye and MacLean’s March. The poem I chose to arrange is concerned with procreation and the spring season, the same 'spring' that I hope we all see with traditional music in Scotland.

Somewhat aggressive and perhaps a throw in the direction of Hardland, this is hardly a bebop jazz standard. Jacobites were the name given to covenanters and supporters of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) during the uprisings of 1745. They were called thus because of their allegiance to catholic King James VI of Scotland who was ousted from the British thrown by a protestant Hanoverian by the name of William of Orange (King Billy). This led James’ son Charles (also known as The Young Pretender) to lead an uprising against the foreign government that ended in defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The following genocide and break-down of the clan system marked the end of a long history of Scottish Kingship and the beginning of an era of oppression for Scots. The next hundred years saw the mass emigration of Gaels as the Highlands became emptied of people and replaced instead with sheep. A very sad end to a noble cause, and one which Scotland has never recovered fully. Incidentally, this period in history is still used as part of an excuse for sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

More tunes from across the Irish Sea. Having been born in Newfoundland Irish music is very much in my blood. But there are also south winds blowing from deserts afar, and I ask the question, is it OK to borrow foreign rhythms, or are those rhythms actually foreign? Perhaps in the end it’s just down to the timbre and interpretation of the sound. Maybe it is OK to borrow that which is carried by the wind.

I’ve always been attracted to early swing jazz from the thirties, especially what fiddle players like Stuff Smith and Stephan Grapelli were doing. This Sunday afternoon dub tune is how I see life sometimes - a walk in the park and piss in the duck pond. (Sorry if you thought that sound at the end was a cute little Scottish burn)

Atari and Cubase - Soundcraft Spirit 12 Channel Mixer - Ensoniq KS 32 (also main sequencer) - Korg 01/Rack - Roland S-760 sampler - Zoom Guitar FX

Highland Pipes in B flat - Scottish Smallpipes in C and D - Overton Low D whistle - Susato whistles - Swedish overtone flute - Violin and Electric