Glorious artwork by Josh Godin
The Ephemeral Man was delighted to get his ears on a copy of William Wright‘s Salt Mass: A Hookland Suite in advance of the release on the 28th June.
Salt Mass is a deep and rousing suite of music, a journey through imagined place and feeling yet no less moving for it. I found myself so captivated that I entered a trance while listening and channelled some words inspired by the music as I listened again and again. This “review” can be found below, but first, take a listen to this track from the suite: Swans Coming Ashore
William Wright is a composer and Music Director at DF Productions. He had this to say about his inspiration for and process behind the album:
“The first time I saw Hookland on Twitter, I think it was a retweet by a songwriter I love, John Darnielle (of The Mountain Goats). I was just floored by the sprawl and relentless creativity of it. Everything I read set off bombs of music in my brain. David Southwell (Hookland Orator) offered to send me a libretto after seeing something I tweeted about Hookland, and the next day I woke to a massive email of Hookland odds and ends. I read through and my mind really fastened on Spitstone, a dark coastal town preyed upon by a thing in the water. Throughout April, I just let my mind be there, and let my ideas soak up the celebrations, frustrations, and legends. In the end, I had this 5 movement suite of songs that I feel really lives in that space. David Southwell was good enough to write liner notes for the album, and seems to really like the music. I’ve spent a lifetime writing music, but this experience has been unlike any project I’ve ever attempted. I’m really proud of it, and that my work is perpetuating the brilliance of Hookland.”
The following is an excerpt from David Southwell’s liner notes:
“There is sympathetic magic in Salt Mass. Like calling to like. The saltwater in the score brought out tears from me on its first listening. I cried because in it, I heard all that I had found in Spitstone as I wandered it. Heard the people, often broken, often bitter, living on bruised lip England.”
Grammy-nominee Wayne Bledsoe, who has written expanded liner notes that only appear in a very limited edition score book to accompany the release, says this about the suite:
“It’s beautiful. It’s gentle. It’s mysterious and sometimes even ominous. It’s bathed in fog that melts away as the day goes on.”
The Ephemeral Man reviews Salt Mass: A Hookland Suite whilst in a trance:
The Black Windmill
Deep earth and radio transmissions. Tattered sails creaking in the wind as the mill churns bones to dust. There was a lady that came to the Black Windmill: a daughter or wife, dependant on who is telling the tale. “Blood in the bread and gone in the head, blood in the bread and gone in the head!” Her cries and laughter can still be heard in the creaking of those tattered sails as the mill churns dust to dust.
Star of the Sea, I beseech you: may the ghosts of regret not haunt me, nor the goblins of desire. Grant me understanding and purpose to light my way, and I will worship you with every fibre of my being.
The Blessing of the Boats
A crisp optimism of tide; an awareness of something bigger than oneself. Exegesis.
Swans Coming Ashore
Cavalcade turned carnival as the swans fold their wings to roost. A moment of bliss ends time. Gestation.
The Wedding of the Fathom Brides
I linger in the depths of it all (shadow an inexorable urge). Prototransformation.
As below, so above. Siren sing me back where I belong.