The collaboration: Acclaimed Stirling-based group Constant Follower, led by Stephen McAll, and renowned folk guitarist Scott William Urquhart have announced their forthcoming collaborative album, Even Days Dissolve, which will be released on 14 April 2023. The album follows on from Constant Follower’s debut long-player Neither Is, Nor Ever Was, which was released in 2021 and nominated for the 2022 Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award. Scott William Urquhart is an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist from Scotland. His debut album, A Recipe For Reverie, was released in January 2020 following a run of self released singles and EPs. Scott’s music has been described as peaceful and meditative and is characterized by single take solo guitar compositions, often in open tunings, released on micro-edition lathe vinyl pressings coupled with original paintings and upcycled sleeve art.
Waves Crash Here (video premiere)
Today we are very proud to have the opportunity to share with you the lead single Waves Crash Here: a gorgeous, arresting opener, with Urquhart’s exquisite folk sound palette embellished with sweeping, moody electric guitar and Constant Follower’s expansive synth lines.
What filmmaker George Farrow-Hawkins says: “Central to this video accompaniment for Waves Crash Here, is the puppet who resembles the songs collaborator, Scott William Urquhart. The film started as an attempt to capture the character of how Scott plays. A style, I observed closely through meeting with Scott and recording a him performing the song. To have this record of our meeting, enabled me to examine, not only, the finger patterns of which the song consists but also the mannerisms which punctuate Scott’s performance. The view, which can be seen within the film, of the dimly illuminated building, is a miniature replica of the view from my kitchen window. Through repeated listen’s to the Waves Crash Here, whilst working on the animation from my home, my feeling towards the song became inextricably tied to these sites that surrounded me. Namely this view, from this window. This nondescript building, against a waining, and blackened sky came to embody the atmosphere of the song. The subtle shifting of light or the motion of the camera within this space seek to respond to the directional pull of the song. Within this film, the sets, the puppet of Scott, as well as the guitar were created largely using repurposed materials. The action was capture via the technique of stop motion animation.”
What Stephen McAll Says: “There’s something about stop motion that’s realer than real. I think it’s like music where even the simplest thing, if done right, can really hit you in the belly. This film that George (Farrow-Hawkins) made for our Waves Crash Here has that special quality… and I think some of that power comes from the honesty of his interpretation. The song is so ‘outdoors’, referencing the Scottish expanse, nature, wildlife, and that’s how I imagined he’d interpret it. But George brought it inside, into the artist’s writing process – where the song was written. A song might be born in the outdoors and thinking of all these fresh and beautiful things, but we’re still sitting in our darkened room in a stolen moment, alone, writing the thing. I realised that this part of it is pretty much forgotten to the listener as well – they’re probably also sitting in a darkened room thinking about the Scottish wilderness listening to the song! So the film perfectly captures that moment. And it’s a creepily realistic version of Scott! He was completely freaked-out when he watched it for the first time. His movements, the way he slants his legs when he plays, it’s just uncanny, and it adds a different dimension to the meaning. Which is exactly the reason I like to leave it open to the filmmaker to interpret the song as they hear it.“
The Album: Even Days Dissolve is an enchanting, deeply absorbing, and meditative album, the product of a musical affinity between two thoughtful and uniquely talented Scottish songwriters and musicians. The songs that make up Even Days Dissolve were inspired by ‘the grand old man of Scottish poetry’, Norman MacCaig (1910-1996), whose work is characterized by its gentle humour, precise observation and love for the natural world, which forms another key theme for the album. MacCaig’s poetry holds great significance to McAll, as it formed a major source of comfort and support to him during a long period of recovery following a violent and unprovoked attack that left him with catastrophic head injuries, partially paralysed and unable to write or play guitar.
Even Days Dissolve is McAll’s nod of respect to McCaig, and the great man’s unmistakable words and inimitable voice feature on two of the tracks sensitively set over the backdrop of beautiful and exquisitely crafted songs.
Scott William Urquhart’s masterful acoustic guitar playing is a stunning centrepiece of the album, imbuing the songs with a moving sense of atmosphere, and sounding at once both elegant and robust. Urquhart’s unassuming yet compelling vocals also feature throughout Even Days Dissolve.
Speaking about ‘‘Even Days Dissolve’, Stephen McAll said: “The magic in music for me is all about collaboration. Finding people who inspire me to make better music, then working with them and creating something between us that’s better than what either of us could have made alone. It’s been an honour to work so closely with Scott William Urquhart on this album. He’s someone whom I’ve admired for some time – unquestionably up there with the best acoustic guitarists at the moment in Scotland, and such a beautiful writer of songs. Bringing two of these songs together with the voice of our beloved Norman MacCaig has been a real highlight of this project. His poetry was introduced to me by my high school teacher Mrs Tatarkowski, and it was the first prose I was able to read and understand when I was recovering from a traumatic head injury. So his work holds a deep space in my heart. I don’t think any poet or songwriter has matched his ability to capture the space and wonder of the natural beauty of Scotland.”
1. Waves Crash Here
2. Wildlife Cameraman (Summer Farm)
3. Watching The Black River Run
4. Song For A Willow Tree
5. Space Between Stars
6. Even Days Dissolve
7. Ash Wednesday Slow
8. Comes A Silence (Basking Shark)
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