Mouth Music

1993: Triple Earth/Ryko RCD 10242

  1. Birnam
  2. Hé Mandu
  3. Hoireann O
  4. Milking the Cow
  5. Waiting
  6. Crathadh ’t ’Aodaich & Zbadba
  7. Maudit
  8. So Step Off
  9. Hé Mandu Mother Mix
  10. Crathadh ’t Aodaich Here & Blown Away Mix

What a joy this album has been to me for so many years…. I was introduced to this, and a few of Kate Bush’s finest works, by a paramour one magical summer (1993), and I still appreciate his musical taste and insight. Ironically, it was this album that helped send us our separate ways, when I found a copy at Orpheum (on Broadway) that listed two extra tracks which weren’t actually contained on the CD: he all but mocked me for trying to pursue the matter and get a copy of this extended CD from a shop known all too well for no longer being customer-oriented. In the end, I got my remix tracks and lost my paramour. I still think it was a worthwhile tradeoff in a psychologically redeeming sense, but I don’t mean to denigrate him in saying that.

So much for the personal context—now on to the music itself. I am eternally indebted to Martin Swan for pursuing this project of his, in all of its forms, because whatever he does, I get to writhe and swim through all of the musical confections he produces (including Martyn Bennett’s album, remixes of other people’s stuff, etc.)…as long as he actually gets to record them and release the results. The latter caveat is what has prevented me from having a copy of the Ecosonic side-project CD he did with Jackie Joyce after Shorelife, whether or not it was good, and that is frustrating.

This CD is the one I think of when Mouth Music is mentioned to me: Puirt a Beul should be, but I heard this one first and was most struck by it of the two that existed at the time. In particular “Hé Mandu” and “Crathadh ’t ’Aodaich” have remained favorites, with “Birnam” holding a special place since I actually visited the town and its hill on one especially notable New Year’s Eve (1996). I’m completely enchanted by Michaela Rowan’s voice, and I hope she knows what a golden instrument she has…her presentation of “Hoireann O” is swoon-inducingly lovely.

It belatedly (13 years or so later) occurs to me that I should note that I find “Waiting” to be deeply engaging and intensely darkly beautiful. Right to its final seconds, it lushly and precisely delivers its cargo in forms appropriate to each moment’s context. “I may want to stay…someday. I will want to stay…someday. I may want to stay…someday.”