North Towards Ever

North Towards Ever

Music by Haworth Hodgkinson

High Moss HM 015 (67:23) • Released 31 August 2017

Music composed, performed and recorded by Haworth Hodgkinson in 1989 and 2016/2017

Cover from a photograph by Haworth Hodgkinson

Album © Haworth Hodgkinson 2017

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North Towards Ever (1989, revised 2016/2017)

I've always been drawn to the north. Maybe it has something to do with having a north-facing childhood bedroom window. I grew up in the North of England and have spent most of my life in the North of Scotland. I have visited the northern parts of Wales and Ireland, but have relatively little experience of the south of any of these countries. I am repeatedly drawn to Dunnet Head or the Butt of Lewis for inspiration; Shetland has always fascinated me since long before I ever visited, and when in Shetland I am drawn to the North Mainland and the North Isles of Yell and Unst. The north is the direction of the midnight sun in summer and of the Aurora Borealis in winter.

Even at home in Aberdeenshire the north coast has a particular magnetism for me, and there's a stretch of coastline between Gamrie and Rosehearty where if you stand on the shore there is no land between you and the North Pole, Orkney lying to your left and Shetland to the right.

Back in the 1980s I had the idea to make a set of pieces based on the compass points, but I soon discovered that I had much more to say about the north than the other directions. I began with Music for a Westerly Destination (1984) and Music for a Northerly Destination (1985), but never managed to face east or south, and two subsequent pieces called Music for an Imagined Destination I and II (1985 and 1986) are really looking northwards again.

Then in 1989 came North Towards Ever, which in its original version was a double-tracked piece for percussion and keyboards inspired by watching a midsummer night from the beach, as the sun dips below the horizon but the sky never goes fully dark. In about 2002 I tried to make a digital remaster from the original recording, but I was dissatisfied with the amount of tape hiss and set it aside. However, in 2016, with access to noise reduction software, I managed to make a more satisfactory remastered version. At this point I started thinking about all the other midsummer nights I'd seen since 1989, and decided to extend the piece by adding a third part, sampling, stretching and replaying elements of the original recording. In 2017 I did something similar again, adding a fourth part with further sampling and slowing down of the original.

What you hear on this album, then, is effectively a quartet played by four different versions of me recorded at different times, the percussion and keyboard parts recorded in 1989 and the two sampling parts in 2016 and 2017. This version is more than twice the length of the original 1989 piece. To begin with, you hear the remastered original, but gradually this is overlaid with the sampled parts, so that when the original music runs out the 2016 and 2017 players can take the music onwards in new directions.

Notes © Haworth Hodgkinson 2017.

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