East to West to East

East to West to East

Music by Haworth Hodgkinson

High Moss HM 027 (73:06) • Released 3 December 2021

All music composed, performed and recorded by Haworth Hodgkinson in 2019

Cover from a photograph by Haworth Hodgkinson

Album © Haworth Hodgkinson 2021

Links: Haworth Hodgkinson

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East to West to East

Preoccupations with the northern compass point tend to predominate in my music, but for this album I turn my orientation through 90 degrees and think about associations of the east and the west. These are not, however, global easts and wests; rather they are specific Scottish interpretations of these directions. From my standpoint near the east coast there is a tendency to think of the west coast as a place of idyllic beauty and glorious sunsets, in contrast to the more mundane east. This album will take you from the east to the west and back again.

The three pieces were all composed and recorded in 2019, and they share the idea of placing some kind of pre-existing sound object in an acoustic landscape. The pre-existing material runs through each landscape like a river, sometimes plainly audible, at other times submerged but still influencing the surface material.

Magnetic West (2019)

Magnetic West takes its title from a poem I wrote in 2005, describing driving across the country to escape the stresses of the east in time to witness one of those magnificent west coast sunsets. A recording of me reading the poem provides the framework for the piece, but it loops and overlaps so that only fragments can be understood, and it is heard more as abstract sound. The voice sounds are subjected to various distorting effects, interacting with multiple keyboard lines.

Magnetic West

Recognising the look
of habitual deceit
I fled

driving with haste
through flat yellow fields
and barren rock lands

to the point where
at precisely eight-thirty
the flame-cast sun traversed the gap
between clouds and sea

and time
stilled to silence
chilled the night
electric.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)

Torridon (2019)

Torridon is one of the most famously beautiful parts of the West Highlands of Scotland, and it was after a retreat there in 2019 that I conceived my piece in response to its landscape, history and atmosphere. At the core of the piece is a slowly unfolding keyboard improvisation following a very strict intuitive scheme, with a symmetry about a central D, the first note you hear. Throughout the piece the left and right hands mirror each other, though the symmetrical chords are sometimes spread. Echo and reverberation effects attempt to create the sense of space and stillness, and microtonal pitch transpositions enhance the atmosphere. In keeping with the symmetrical pitch scheme, these transpositions are applied at the same interval of ten-and-a-third semitones above and below the live keyboard part.

Arnage Tuesday Remix (2019)

The final piece brings us back east to Arnage in Aberdeenshire. The pre-existing framework here is the piece Arnage Tuesday, taken from my album The Arnage Sessions recorded in 2017. The original was a simple keyboard improvisation; in Arnage Tuesday Remix I have subjected it to various transformations and distortions. The processing is all digital, but some of the inspiration for the sounds may hark back to the analogue electronics of the 1980s.

Notes © Haworth Hodgkinson 2021

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