Ian Holloway & Banks Bailey - Strange Pilgrims
Every now and again Banks sends me a digital file of something beautiful that he's recorded during one of his expeditions into the wilds of his home in Arizona. On this occasion it has a rather lovely recording of a Hermit Thrush. It made for fine listening but I think I was in a bit of a fidgetty mood that day as I started playing around with it, cutting it up, dropping the pitch, etc and soon discovered I had what sounded something like a bamboo flute. Over the next day or two I added some of my watery field recordings and then started playing along with it adding snatches of electronic drones.
It took a while to get the balance right so as not to loose either aspect - the natural or the digital - but I'm pretty pleased with the end result.
I hope you like it.
Here’s a teamup between Ian Holloway, the English mystic who I think resides in Swansea, with the American fellow Banks Bailey, nomad of the Arizona desert zones. Strange Pilgrims (QUIET WORLD FORTY FOUR) is a single half-hour cut, for the most part assembled and montaged by Holloway using as a starting point a field recording of a Hermit Thrush sent to him by Banks. True poets have already identified this bird as significant; according to Walt Whitman, the Hermit Thrush stands for the voice of all Americans when he wrote a threnody on the death of Honest Abe Lincoln. Said Thrush also trills a melody in part of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. I say this to confirm smart choice on part of Banks. But that’s also a considerable burden to place on the beak of one poor bird. Can Holloway up the ante on these poetic predecessors? He’s man enough to try. He radically repurposed the song of that bird through extensive treatments, making cutups and varispeed interventions, until he had “what sounded something like a bamboo flute”. Holloway then proceeded to add his own field recordings to the tableau – mostly of a water-based nature – and additional wispy, ambient electronic drones of his own manufacture. This “blending” approach is nowadays a commonplace among many musicians and sound artists, so what I claim is distinctive about Holloway is his (a) his sense of atmosphere – Strange Pilgrims reverberates with a spooked-out, twilight vibe that verges on the occult – and (b) his deft, light touch in making these subtle assemblies. He didn’t just throw sounds together in ill-suited juxtapositions; rather, he worked hard to achieve a perfect equilibrium between the natural sounds and the electronic / digital interpolations, aiming for due diligence with the Thrush as much as the environmental feeling. He succeeded. This unassuming gem weaves a potent spell and casts a strong mood. Perfect listening for the midnight hour. Cover art is from “a found stained glass window”. I wish Holloway could have named which church he found it in, unless he found the window lying under a bramble bush. Clearly it’s modern. Maybe an ecclesiologist could identify the image for us. From September 2013.
And finally there is Ian Holloway, boss of Quiet World, and his regular collaborator Banks Bailey, who is avid taper of the sounds of the environment. In this case a recording of a Hermit Thrush, which pitched down sounds like a bamboo flute. Holloway made this collage out of it, added some sounds of water which he recorded and this thirty-one minute is the result. It's quite drone like, but the bird calls, bamboo flute like sounds make up for what is indeed a very nice piece of music. Perfect for a late night session or for the more daring listener, I'd say, play this on your Ipod if you go out into the woods at night. This you might find the best soundtrack for such a stroll. If any of these five releases sums up what Quiet World is about, then I'd say it is this one. Nothing new as such, but a most delightful tune.