Disc 1 and Disc 3, Track 1, Oxford Circus, can be heard as part of an 8CD 'Virtual Boxset' of A Walk In The Park and related music, available on YouTube, beginning here
Disc 2 and Disc 3, Track 2, A Picnic in the Malvern Hills, can be heard as part of an 8CD 'Virtual Boxset' of The Birds & The Bees and related music, available on YouTube, beginning here
WALKING WITH BEES
explores themes which first came to light on A Walk in the Park and The Birds & The Bees, both released in 2005.
Sometimes [25.07]. This track began life during the making of A Walk in the Park, but rapidly outgrew the space it was meant to occupy on what was always planned to be a single disc. After I finished that album, I set about finishing this track, in the course of which it grew even more and ended up like this.
Long Train Blues [28.01]. It's not often you come across a piece of music intended to celebrate the Blues and, at the same time, the Golden Age of Steam. This is just such a work. It's based on the Occasional Train Blues from A Walk in the Park, and was written just after that album was completed. Of course, trains have a special place in the mythology of the Blues: countless Blues songs recall hopping freight trains, and going down to the station for many a sad goodbye; the rattle of the train on the tracks may be imitated by the drums, and the plaintive whistle by the harmonica or the slide guitar, as indeed they are here.
Picnic [8.24] Introduces the first part of the programme, in which you may imagine yourself joining a picnic party in the Malvern Hills in 1937.
Murmurs from Malvern [8.26] The first of several episodes on this disc of what has become known as 'Sonic Poetry'.
Woodwind Variation [1.21] A version of the Losing Faith variations from The Birds & The Bees, scored for woodwinds in a style intended to be vaguely reminiscent of the 1930's.
Practice Makes Perfect [5.45] Meanwhile, a younger member of the family, forced to miss the picnic in favour of piano practice, tries to play scales and ignore the sound of the gardener at work outside. Bored and resentful at not being able to join the fun, his mind wanders, mixing the beat of the metronome with the ticking of the clock, and the striking of the hour with the music he must practice.
A Very Ancient Craft [5.08] The youngest child is now at an age where he must begin to receive instruction in the art of apiculture (that's beekeeping to you and me!). The route to the picnic site has been carefully chosen, and as they walk, his tutor - his mother, perhaps, or a patient aunt - asks him to identify what they see. He proudly demonstrates the knowledge he has acquired.
Fantasy [9.44] Continuing to practice the dull classical pieces assigned to him (Bee Song and Maypole Song, from The Birds & The Bees), our young pianist, tired of stumbling over Music for an Imaginary Spy Film (from previous Andy Murkin albums), gives in to his fantasy of handling keyboards in a rock band of the type which would not appear until some 30 years later. Asleep, but ahead of his time, he performs brilliantly in his dreams.
Merry March and Song [11.27] More Sonic Poetry here. All the sounds are derived from the voice (giving a worthy speech in the local village hall, perhaps); until part of the way through, when some instruments appear as an accompaniment.
Opposite Pole [4.13] A slightly bizarre reinterpretation of Maypole Song from The Birds & The Bees.
Just But See What I Have Done! [4.49] A final burst of rhythmic Sonic Poetry leads into another piece for woodwinds, joined here by a single cello.
View from the Top [12.45] This leads, in turn, to a final melancholy piece, again scored for cello and woodwinds. A reflection on the state of the world in 1937, perhaps, in which the optimism of the British Bee Journal was soon to be proved false.
The 2 pieces on this disc are a bit different. After the electronic experiments which lead to tracks such as Slow March on The Birds and the Bees, and others, I tried producing some 'ambient' sounds - 'mood' music, if you will - designed to be played in the background, for a soothing, calm, meditative, relaxing kind of effect: you know the sort of thing. When early listeners complained that it only made them more tense than they were before they put it on, I knew I was onto something! This disc, then, is meant to be played quietly, as you go about your daily business, contributing something indefinable to the atmosphere of your day . . .
Oxford Circus [36.04] is based on sounds heard on A Walk in the Park.
A Picnic in the Malvern Hills [34.48] was developed from Picnic on Disc 2.
All songs written, arranged, performed and produced by Andy Murkin, except My Grandfather's Clock [Trad.], which appears in on Disc 2, and the articles from the British Bee Journal, 1937, which are by E.F.Hemming, J.N.Kidd and T.Watson.
Cover by Andy Murkin; photography by Andy Murkin and Al Hudleston
� Fortspring 2005
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