Y Mabinogi – Monasteries, Welsh Words, and a Screaming Guitar

I haven’t posted an update about the new album since early May so it’s about time I brought you up to date!

The spoken word section is done. Recorded, edited, balanced, and dropped into the main recording. I’ve mixed down the recorded songs and dropped those into place. There is only one song left to write and record, so doing that was a good indication of the length of the album and, to be honest, to find out if it would work! So I dropped in the songs, some of which have extended intros so they can lie under the spoken word and the song literally emerges from the words. As I dropped each song into place it was like some magical transformation was taking place. The intros hadn’t been timed, but each one slipped into place and began at exactly the right moment in the story! For instance, as Pwyll turns to face Arawn, just before he steps into Annwn and sees his own face looking back at him the song Annwn begins with a bell chiming. Exactly at that moment! It happened with every song. I think I’m not the only one guiding this project!

So there it was. Nearly two hours long, and ready for two more parts to be added. In my past update I mentioned how the album would begin:

When you get the CD and press play the first thing you will hear is Gregorian-style singing. Then footsteps as the monk walks through the monastery, to the Scriptorium. Opening the door you then hear him sit down and begin to write.

What I didn’t say was, just as you hear the quill begin to move, the voice of the Monk begins speaking the story in Welsh. So I invited my good buddy Kristoffer Hughes down from Anglesey this past weekend to add that voice. He stepped into the recording booth and I pressed record. How magical the Welsh language is. I could barely understand what he was saying, just the occasional word – Pwyll, Glyn Cuch, Pen Llwyn Diarwya, all sounding like some ancient magical spell. It was only about a minute of recording, but it was so important to get it right. I then opened the final file, and dropped his words into place. It was perfect!

I’ve known Kris for years, and we have walked a very similar path with our Druidry. I know how much he adores these tales so it was very important to me that he heard the entire album. To make sure my pronunciation was correct, to make sure the decorations I had added to the tale didn’t detract from the story being told. I felt happy with it all, but even I hadn’t sat down to listen to the entire album from beginning to end, songs and all.

We both needed to take that Journey.

Here is what Kris said on a Facebook post after hearing the album, and returning home:

This last weekend I traveled down to Sussex to record a little bit for Damh the Bards new album. But, I also got to listen to the entire album, weeks before it’s release. He has written original songs to help tell the tale of the First Branch of the Mabinogi, together with the entire story. Now to anyone who knows anything about me, I adore and love these tales, so I must admit to have been a little nervous, just anticipating listening to it.
But oh my Gods! What a treat to my ears it was! I was absolutely blown away and moved, even to tears, which again to most who know me – it takes a lot to move my chilly little heart.
Now that I have returned back home and processed it, I am so so so bloody excited to hear the entire finished, polished thing. It is going to be a treat.
You will all be gagging in delight when you hear it. Bloody marvelous!

Well that was a good thing to read!

The first song on the album begins just before Pwyll meets Arawn. If you are familiar with the tale he has run off Arawn’s hounds from the stag, and set his one upon it when the Grove becomes still and an icy chill turns his breath to mist. The song’s title is a huge tip of the hat the ghost story writer M. R. James whose story Whistle and I’ll come to you revolves around a man finding an old flute in a grave. On its edge is written the words Who is this who is coming? Which was perfect for that moment in the Mabinogi. So Who is this Coming? begins at that point.

After the second chorus the volume is cranked up, and I always envisioned a rock guitar solo there. I was in a Metal band back in the 80s called Targa and we were blessed with two incredible guitarists. One is now in the USA, but the other still lives close to me. We’ve barely seen each other since those days but have reconnected through the wonders of Facebook. It was a no-brainer. I sent Alan the song, and he soon sent me a video of him playing the solo. It was fantastic. Exactly what I wanted. So he is coming to the studio tonight to add that part.

What next? Well, I need to write the final song. It was going to be an anthem to Pryderi, but as the story has progressed I know where the song will go, and it’s very different from that initial idea. Rhiannon has been unjustly punished for murdering her son. In the mean time her son has grown up with Teyrnon and his wife who cannot now deny the similarity between Pwyll and Rhiannon. So they return to Arberth. There, at the mounting block they see Rhiannon, who tells her story, and offers to carry them into the castle on her back. The just punishment for what she did. But then she sees Gwri (Pryderi’s original name) and is told that he is her son. Imagine what feelings go through Rhiannon at that moment – when she realises he is still alive! Imagine the words she whispers into the ears of her son as show holds him close for the first time since he was born. That’s the last song right there.

I’m off to the USA to play some concerts at the Pagan Spirit Gathering next week, but when I get back I’ll be recording that song. Once that’s done I’ll add some sound effects to the story, and some incidental music too. Once that’s done, it’s the artwork, the book, and that’s it!

An Autumn release is looking very likely!

21 Comments

  1. Jason Drew June 13, 2017 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve looked forward an album so much in my life.

  2. Blanche Rowen June 13, 2017 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Fantastic! So looking forward to it

  3. Char Lewis June 13, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait to get this CD! I’m really looking forward to it.
    xo

  4. Bernie June 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    All I can think is “Hurry up, hurry up!” 🙂
    Will you play anything from this in Swindon? Please? Pretty please? Xx

    • Damh the Bard June 13, 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      That’s very likely 🙂

  5. Susan paramor June 13, 2017 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Great news an epic journey for you. Thank you for taking us along and updating the creation. So well done David. Thank you once more.
    Susan Marie

  6. Morgana June 13, 2017 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    OMG! Cannot wait for this to be available!!! Damh just gets better and better with each new recording!

  7. Karen June 13, 2017 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Just about to burst with anticipation!!! I can hardly wait for fall, and I never rush summer! Are to going to offer a pre-order option Dave?

    • Damh the Bard June 13, 2017 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      Absolutely. About a month to a couple of weeks before launch.

  8. Preest June 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Nothing like a bit of healthy anticipation 🙂

  9. Síabhra June 13, 2017 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Wonderful I will be looking forward to it. Thank you for sharing your journey making this available to. Do keep us posted.

  10. Anne June 13, 2017 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Having followed the progress of the cd I’m really looking forward to its release

  11. Marcus Misbehavuis June 13, 2017 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Holy moley! My golf partner is a musician, a magician, a folk singer, a writer and …… hold on….. a metal head? Get the fuck outta here, I absolutely do not believe it. And you say you know extremely talented Australian folk singers too? Feck orff! The next thing you’ll be telling me is that you know farsands, yes farsands of wonderful folk with all sorts od Bardic, Ovatic and Druidic talents across the globe! Just behave Dave!

  12. Debbie June 14, 2017 at 3:39 am - Reply

    I have been waiting for you to do these stories for a long time since I told you at Michigan Pagan Fest you were the perfect storyteller and your music to boot is the perfect combination. I know it is going to be fabulous.

    Cheers from Michigan

  13. Brigit June 14, 2017 at 4:08 am - Reply

    What a Kind Blessing we have received! Thank you Dave, for taking us on this incredible journey of Magical, Musical, Mystical Creativity. I can almost Hear the beauty of the music, and can almost Feel the power of the ancient stories being unveiled, revealed, & released into the airwaves… I’m looking forward to having my own CD, so that I can experience it for REAL!

    Brightest of Blessings, Brigit

  14. Sonia Smith June 14, 2017 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    LOL @ Bernie. That really would be amazing to hear something from the album at the Swindon gig. YAY! So looking forwards to the album, and the more albums to come!

  15. Rylin Mariel Hansen June 15, 2017 at 5:26 am - Reply

    I can hardly wait – I’m thrilled to hear this is going so well!

  16. Jeff Stilson June 17, 2017 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Can’t wait! I’m STILL trying to get through the Mab. Wonderful reading but the language can be a bit tough to get through. I have gotten through the first book and can’t wait to hear it “visualized”. For this, autumn can’t come soon enough! Thank you Damh!

    Jeff Stilson
    Peace, Love and Mead!

  17. Ann Beirne June 20, 2017 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Can’t wait to hear it, actually my heart and soul are already hearing some of it.

    What a wonderful work of art this will be, well done, I wish I had your fantastic talents.

    Love, Light and deep Peace

    Ann

  18. John Chambers June 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    I’m so excited! Pre-order details at the first opportunity please!

  19. terri July 7, 2017 at 12:40 am - Reply

    i am so excited about this album! i can hardly wait! it sounds like it is going to be absolutely magical!!! 🙂

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