Well, it looks like I’ve just released an album.
Titanium Flag is its name and its an all-instrumental album, including the seven-part Ice Museum Suite inspired by two books on Arctic travel and history: Joanna Kavennas The Ice Museum: In Search Of The Lost Land Of Thule (Viking, 2005) and True North: Travels In Arctic Europe (Polygon, 2008) by Gavin Francis. Joanna was kind enough to allow the use of her title, and kind enough to say she liked the music too!
You could describe the album as Mike Oldfield-esque. Mike, though, wasnt an influence on the music. The direct inspirations were Dutch guitarist Jan Akkerman, the Mark 1 Mahavishnu Orchestra, the ambient music of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, British folk icon Martin Carthy and Estonian faith minimalist composer Arvo Part. The American Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron was also important in a more general sense during the creative period.
If theres a journey associated with the making of this music, its only a very small one. I was unwell for a long period – not in a life-threatening way, but in a way that put life on hold for a couple of years. At Christmas 2009 I took a friends advice, borrowed some money and bought, for the first time in my life, a really fine instrument: a handmade Avalon acoustic guitar. Its been a revelation and a catalyst. Having created no music – barely picked up an instrument – for two years, the instrumental pieces for Titanium Flag and also a host of vocal pieces (which will appear on CD soon) came really quickly. It was quite a cathartic experience, but thats only on a personal level – the music stands alone, failing or succeeding on its own merits.
In terms of previous instrumental work, Ive recorded duets with Duke Special, Martin Hayes, Brooks Williams, Jan Akkerman and Bert Jansch – although Ive kept my name very low in the credits, and off the sleeves, of the bits of plastic those pieces appeared on. Having been involved in writing about and reviewing music for much of the past 20 years the poacher/gamekeeper paradox held me back in terms of pursuing music-making more fully, and from using my own name when doing so. But, as Im now more or less retired from writing about music – certainly, from reviewing music in any way – and as the landscape and values of the music business have changed so radically in recent years, it really doesnt matter any more! Titanium Flag is consequently the first CD release under my own name.
Titanium Flag will be available physically from mid August 2010 via http://cdbaby.com/cd/ColinHarper where there are audio samples of each of the nine tracks.
Digital downloads are also available from CDBaby – and, I believe, from iTunes, Amazon and other people.
Three tracks can be heard in full at: www.MySpace.com/titaniumflag
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