With the recent performance and subsequent TV broadcast of Martyn Bennett's GRIT from the opening ceremony of Celtic Connections 2015, there's been a lot of attention on Martyn and his music in the last few weeks.
But we couldn't let today pass - the 10th anniversary of Martyn's death - without marking the occasion.
"Martyn took the soul and passion of the roots of Scottish music, and planted them in a modern, electronic world.
Sadly we only had the opportunity to work with Martyn towards the end of his music-making. I loved how he created and handled his work. There was always a mix of intense emotion, compassion and pride, served on a bed of atmosphere and rhythm." Peter Gabriel
Martyn Bennett, a rare talent, still sadly missed.
Congratulations to Charlie Winston on the release of his new album "Curio City" today on AFishant Records - We had a great time working with Charlie on his first two albums Hobo and Running Still. To celebrate the occasion we're getting nostalgic and are giving away a limited edition 7" of "In Your Hands" when you order either one of his previous albums from our shop.
Highlights from the Celtic Connections 2015 opening ceremony featuring the World Premiere of the Martyn Bennett's GRIT will be broadcast tonight on BBC 2 Scotland at 21:30 and subsequently available on BBC iPlayer. The album GRIT, originally release in October 2003, was to be Martyn's final masterpiece; a complex mixture of electronica, dance beats and samples offset by the voices of traditional singers whose music and words Martyn was raised on.
For this opening ceremony at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall the album was to undergo a radical re-imagining; Greg Lawson, a renowned musician in his own right and friend of Martyn Bennett, conducting his own new orchestral arrangement.
The idea of an orchestral arrangement of the GRIT album had been mooted even before Martyn's untimely death in 2005. "I talked briefly with him about the idea of my writing his music for orchestra, and he intimated that he was pleased about that, but that I probably wouldn't do as good a job as he would - to which I completely agreed!" said Greg Lawson in a recent interview with The Scotsman newspaper.
Bj Stewart custodian of the Martyn Bennett Trust concurs that it has been a long process realising the performance: "Over the years Greg's concept of performing GRIT as an orchestral piece had been discussed many times. He had in fact even discussed it with Martyn before that. Each year Celtic Connections came and went. it wasn't the right time or the trepidation of even attempting such a feat proved too overpowering that it was shelved till the next year. I mean, GRIT-Martyn Bennett-Live-Celtic Connections. No pressure!"
In the intervening years Greg had remained close to Bj and the Martyn Bennett Trust, performing at most, if not all, of the previous Tribute Concerts held annually by the Trust. It was a connection that had been cemented that fateful day 10 years ago when Greg performed on the recording of 'Mackay's Memoirs'; a piece performed at the opening ceremony of the new Scottish Parliament in 1999 but not recorded until early 2005. The planned recording date coinciding with the sad news of Martyn's passing. The news was kept back from the young musicians of City of Edinburgh School of Music who were to perform, but older and more experienced musicians such as Greg had to play already knowing what had happened.
For Bj, Greg's involvement in the plan to finally orchestrate GRIT for a performance at Celtic Connections was comforting; "there definitely was a warming element of 'keeping it in the family' with Greg leading this project and we were confident he was the man with the knowledge, passion, ability and integrity to pull this off."
For those not lucky enough to attend the performance itself you will see in the broadcast this evening that any fears that held back the idea of attempting to orchestrate GRIT have also driven Greg and the orchestra into creating and delivering something rather special. Bj Stewart again:
"I think now that the adrenalin has settled one of the most striking things for me about that night last week was the reaction from the crowd. That's not too detract at all from the brilliance of all of the musicians on stage, the months of sweat and tears put in by Greg nor the spectacle of the suitably eclectic hand picked orchestra in this beautiful venue. The atmosphere, even after the lovely first half 'warm up' ,was tense. There was a palpable sense of expectation, doubt, nervousness. Could this be done? From memory this almost tangible feeling changed after maybe 30 seconds, the nerves dissolved away and the end of the first track 'Move' was met by an enormous euphoric roar of relief, appreciation and excitement. There was an incredible warmth, an outpouring of love, respect and celebration for Martyn and what we were sharing with the performers in front of us."
A night that will live long in the memory of those that were there.
The Celtic Connections opening ceremony - Nae Regrets: Martyn Bennett's Grit will be broadcast on BBC 2 Scotland tonight (22 Jan) at 21:30 and available shortly after on BBC iPlayer.
Before that at 21:00 BBC 2 Scotland will also show the Martyn Bennett documentary about the recording of GRIT. It will also be in BBC iPlayer.
All photos courtesy of Sean Purser.
Aurelio and his band were recently invited into the KEXP Studio to perform a few songs from his new album Lándini. Watch the full performance, recorded December 30, 2014.
"I consider this album to be the sound of my Garifuna people. On the previous album [Laru Beya] we experimented and collaborated with other artists to reconnect what was lost between Africa and America. This album is purely Garifuna, and the entire spirit of the music reflects the Garifuna experience." - Aurelio
Ethan began his career under the tutelage of his father, producer Glyn Johns, and since the 90's he has worked as a producer, engineer, mixer, and occasionally touring musician for a number of artists including Ray LaMontagne, Kings of Leon, Joe Cocker, Tom Jones, Emmylou Harris and Laura Marling. In 2012 Johns stepped out from behind the console and released his first solo album.
Live at Kings Place' captures a homecoming show - the culmination of a month of UK touring in support of Johns' second solo album 'The Reckoning' - and was recorded especially for Society of Sound.
"If you put yourself in a position when you're in control of what's going on, then it becomes quite safe. Sometimes you want to go for those definitive versions of songs, but for me at the moment, that's not what I'm going for. It's more about trying to catch a snapshot of a certain period of time."
Ethan Johns 'Live at Kings Place' is now available on Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound
The opening night of the 2015 Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow - tomorrow, Thursday 15 - features a full orchestration of Martyn Bennett's last album, GRIT, by cross-genre classical violinist Greg Lawson.
The performance entitled 'Nae Regrets' has taken Greg Lawson, a notable musician in his own right and also a friend of Martyn Bennett's, over a year to arrange for a live orchestral performance, but the idea of doing something of this nature had been brewing since before Bennett's untimely death. In a recent interview with The Scotsman newspaper he explained more about his motivation for being involved in the project:
"What happens with albums and iconic people is that you don't interact with them any more. Martyn is like a beautiful mountain that people drive to the foot of and admire, but we don't go up it. The result is that people don't play his music. That was my overwhelming desire: I want to play this piece, I want people to hear this piece and I want it to be a live experience… I talked briefly with him about the idea of my writing his music for orchestra, and he intimated that he was pleased about that, but that I probably wouldn't do as good a job as he would - to which I completely agreed!"
In addition to the article above you can watch an interview with Greg Lawson, where he talks about the process of orchestrating this new version of GRIT and his memories of Martyn Bennett.
Celtic Connections opens this week with the live world première of Martyn Bennett's final masterpiece Grit.
Grit, originally released in 2003, is widely recognised as a towering landmark in contemporary Scottish music, and this year's festival also coincides with the 10th anniversary of Bennett's untimely passing. The performance - of this almost entirely studio-created album, reconstructed by violinist and composer Greg Lawson for a custom-designed orchestra of folk, jazz and classical players - extends his legacy triumphantly towards the future.
Centred on traditional music's purest primal essence, as distilled into Scottish Gaelic and traveller songs, Grit brought to bear the full visionary sweep of Bennett's genre-transcending artistry and technological wizardry, to both dazzling and inspirational effect. Several years in the writing, Lawson's reimagined version features a cast of around 80 musicians and singers.
"When you enter the landscape of Martyn Bennett's mind," he observes, "It's amazing how many people you need to accomplish what he did by himself."
We're delighted that GRIT: The Martyn Bennett Story won 'Event of The Year' at Saturday's MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards, that took place in Inverness.
The Martyn Bennett Story is a theatrical exploration of one of Scotland's most innovative and maverick musical visionaries: Real World artist Martyn Bennett. The production was directed by Olivier Award winning theatre director Cora Bissett and written by one of Scotland's brightest writing talents Kieran Hurley.
You can read more about the Trad Awards in this piece from The Scotsman . Well done to everyone involved in the production!
Continuing the GRIT theme, 2015 will be the 10th anniversary of Martyn's untimely passing and with a mixture of celebration and commemoration the opening event at Celtic Connections 2015 will be the live world première of Martyn Bennett's final masterpiece, originally released in 2003, and widely recognised as a towering landmark in contemporary Scottish music. It should prove to be another memorable night.
Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound is ending the year in some style with a release from the famed musical collective Radiophonic Workshop, best known for defining the use of sound effects and pioneering sound design across popular TV, film and music over the past 50 years.
Having come to recognition as the founding members of the BBC's world famous electronic music department ('BBC Radiophonic Workshop'), the group have been lauded globally for delivering musically progressive and immersive appearances wherever they play.
Society of Sound offered the perfect environment for Radiophonic Workshop to express itself and this recording - made earlier this year at Real World Studios - was created especially for the Society of Sound release.
Dr Dick Mills of Radiophonic Workshop said: "We've been experimenting in the studio, mixing the old techniques with new ones, taking some of the methods we used when the Workshop began in 1956 and mixing them up with the very latest digital technologies. The Workshop took the approach that we didn't know what wasn't possible so we never really saw the boundaries in sound that others did. The producers would ask us to create a certain feel and we would imagine it - by whatever means we could. That has stayed the same and we welcome the freedom to be able to experiment in the studio in that way again."
For the first time, the group's unique form of electronica will be available in high-resolution 24-bit/48kHz studio quality download via Society of Sound - a music subscription download service that offers two hand-picked albums per month, delivered in partnership with Peter Gabriel's Real World and the London Symphony Orchestra.
The album Radiophonic Workshop is available now on Society of Sound.
Dazed have teamed up with Channel 4 for a new series looking at music cults. British Asian Rave aired on Channel 4 last night and celebrates the musical and social phenomenon of the so-called 'Asian Underground', the anthem for many second generation British South Asians during the 1990s as they negotiated their Britishness.
The programme featured the Real World group Joi, whose DJ-led mix of brittle breakbeats and flowing Eastern grooves was at the forefront of the movement. Joi went on to release three albums, 1999's One and One Is One, 2002's We Are Three and 2007's Without Zero. Celebratory and devotional, progressive and respectful, laden with different emotions yet bound by a one-love aesthetic, they stole the hearts of critics, clubbers and exemplary music-lovers alike.
In 1997, Real World commissioned some of the leading lights of the UK's Asian Underground movement to remix and reshape the back catalogue of the late, great Pakistani qawwali singer, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The compilation features remixes from Joi, Asian Dub Foundation, Nitin Sawhney, State Of Bengal, The Dhol Foundation and others and was recently reissued as part of our Real World Gold series.