Archive for December, 2013


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A Comet’s Tale originated from early discussions with Emily Ferrell about a release with the Subterranean Tide label. I had mentioned that I always wanted to do a release based around my interests in astronomy and a day later Emily came back with the evocative poem that graces the cover art. That poem directly triggered the idea of following the path of a comet from its origins in the distant Oort Cloud of our outer solar system, to it’s perilous journey past our Sun and return home, if it survives!

A comet is basically a large boulder-like mass of ice, gas and dust, which closely resembles the smaller rocky asteroids in form. Very slight gravitational forces from nearby stars, including the Sun, can pull these objects out of their normal orbit and onto a new path which sends them careering into our solar system. The Oort Cloud is the most distant home of comets and forms a sort of spherical shell of objects orbiting our solar system way out beyond Neptune. The musical journey follows a typical long-period comet (a comet that takes more than 200 years to complete it’s orbit), which has been dislodged from the Oort Cloud and is on an incoming trajectory around our Sun. Aphelion is when our comet is at it’s furthest point from the Sun, coasting in through the outer solar system, it’s dust tail streaming majestically behind it and increasing in speed all the time. As it reaches it’s point of closest approach to the Sun, or Perhelion, the speed picks up and the comet faces it’s most dangerous time buffeted by the solar wind and in a constant tug-o-war with the powerful gravitational pull of the Sun. A special group of comets, the Sungrazer’s, are the adrenaline junkies of the comet world and either survive, or die by evaporation, as they skim close to the Suns upper atmosphere. If a comet survives this passage around the Sun and passes close to Earth on it’s way back out to the Oort Cloud it can turn into one of the most spectacular objects seen in the night sky. The sun heats up the comet and triggers the expansion of internal gasses, which explode through the surface. The comet then goes into an outburst phase where it dramatically increases in size and brightness and becomes visible to us with small telescopes, binoculars or the naked eye. One of the common gasses vented is Cyanogen and this can give the comet’s coma (head) and tail a lovely green hue. The dust left behind in the trail of an orbiting comet makes up most of the material we see as meteors flashing through the sky during a meteor shower as the dust burns up in our atmosphere. Many of the main meteor showers can be directly linked to a particular passing comet or asteroid. The comet then passes out of our visible range to return again in a few hundred, or perhaps thousands, of years and is therefore truly a once-in-a-lifetime object to see.

If you get a chance this winter do follow the story of Comet C/2012_S1 (ISON) as it becomes visible from November onward http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/2012_S1 This is a newly discovered sungrazer comet which has the potential to be one of the most spectacular comets visible this century…if the Sun doesn’t melt it!  Edit 27-12-13 – which it sadly did, Comet ISON is no more 😦     ~Savaran

Cover Image: No Copyright, courtesy of NASA. The cover image is from the ancient Chinese Mawangdui silk which is a ‘textbook’ of cometary forms and the various disasters associated with them. It was compiled sometime around 300 B.C.

Subterrannean Tide ST03. Released July 2013. Savaran: A Comet’s Tale – Download from Archive.org here http://archive.org/details/ST03ACometsTaleSavaran or from Bandcamp here http://subterraneantide.bandcamp.com/album/a-comets-tale

All tracks composed & mixed by Mark Walters
Mastered by Wil Bolton
Artwork & Poetry by Emily Ferrell

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Assembly Field Label AF02. Released April 2013

The Halcyon Days tracks evolved over five months between November 2012 and March 2013. For some reason my most subtle, deep, emotional and dark works always seem to be produced in the suppressed light of Winter. Perhaps the enforced isolation and incarceration in the studio due to the inclement weather figures in this, but I know that I also take a lot of visual and audible cues from the landscape and nature at this time.

The EP essentially describes a number of locations visited during the Winter months in the UK and my response to them in musical form.

Sojourn was born from a visit to the hills and lakes above Betws Y Coed in Snowdonia on a bright November day. On descending back down to the village the acoustics of the valley floor suddenly opened out in a few places and the rocky hillside behind us acted like an amphitheatre sucking in sounds from distant locations. We could clearly hear people talking and the bustle of activity on the playing field combined with distant calls from the whistle of the steam railway – you can hear these sounds, and others, under the ambient guitar melodies. Arra Venton by contrast is an altogether more mysterious piece.

Arra Venton is a Landmark Trust house you can rent near Morvah and Zennor in west Cornwall. It started life as a Wesleyan chapel and blacksmith’s workshop with dwelling above, but has now been carefully and sympathetically restored. It’s granite hewn walls reside next to a forbidding bog topped by blackthorns leaning away from the seaborne wind. There’s an old well in the grounds and the glowering torrs of Carn Galva look down from above. It is a place steeped in history and sense of place with a definite character that is surprisingly welcoming – I love this sort of place. We spent Christmas 2012 here with constant wind and rain battering the sturdy walls. The wind howled in the chimney and swirled around the roof trying to find a way in for most of the time we were there, it was a constant soundtrack to the holiday. I was recording a live improvised track with the Korg Monotron analogue synth late one night and could hear the wind howling through the headphones and mournful drones coming out of the Monotron. It seemed to be competing with the music, trying to be part of it, so I let it in and that is how this track came to be.

I will let the listener conjure up their own stories from the rest of the tracks. Each track does have a story and point of origin in the landscape, but you will have to navigate your own way from now on.

This EP is dedicated to Tess, who is no longer with us, but whose presence during field recording trips, holidays and recording sessions in the studio is very much a part of these tracks..

Written and produced by Mark Walters

Mastered by Wil Bolton

Photography by Mark Walters

Savaran: Halcyon Days EP – Download here – http://archive.org/details/Savaran-HalcyonDays_113