Lyrics

 

I collect up all these holy words

Form horizons from the seen and heard

But if I'm honest I can only promise

That if I could I would collect all year

And I'd come down with a mountain on my back 

And say "here, could I make it clear?"

 

And forever more

 

Rivers rolling down the mountainside

Where two paths and two parts collide

Rolling down the mountain side

Rolling down the mountainside 

 

And if it all burns out, I'll come pouring in

The words under my breath

The words under your skin

And we'll be rolling 'round

Waterfalls in eider down

Down to the rest, down to the rest 'till we're gone

Lay me down a bed of song

 

[joik ... ] 

 

And rivers rolling down the mountain side

When two paths and two parts collide

Rolling down the mountainside

Rolling down the mountainside ... 

 

The Descent


The original inspiration for this song (the oldest on the EP) comes from when I was travelling with a friend in 2009 among the mountains of northern Spain. We were hiking around ten kilometres a day across pretty steep terrain, and all of it seemed to be downhill! In one particular village (the name of which I've long forgotten) we met a touring Portuguese band, Toques Do Caramulo, who play beautiful traditional tunes from Portugal's Caramulo Mountain region. They kindly gave me one of their albums, which they'd dedicated to an old 'Caramulan' folk musician called Francisco Silva. In the album's sleeve notes they describe how "there are those who go up the mountains to collect ... [Silva] stayed up there long enough to bring themountain [down] on his back" (see the lyrics below for the connection!). 

For this recording of The Descent I collaborated with the South Sámi joiker Marja Mortensson, and saxophonist Michael Wilbur of the Brooklyn-based band, Moon Hooch.

Joik (also spelled "yoik") is an ancient wordless vocal form belonging to the Sámi people, who are indigenous to northerly regions of Norway, Finland, Sweden and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. I wrote a dissertation about joik back in 2011, for which I spent time in the north of Norway learning about this amazing tradition. I've returned several times over the years and feel a huge connection to the place - and to joik. Obviously I'm thrilled to have collaborated with Marja.

If you're interested in learning more about joik, check out the introductory course I'm teaching this summer at SOAS, University of London.

The story of how saxophone ended up on the track is a little more random. I discovered the music of Moon Hooch a few years ago and instantly fell in love with their uniquely mad sound (rumour has it they were once banned from performing on the New York subway system because they were causing impromptu raves). You can imagine how surprised I was when one day I bumped into the band in London, just a km or so from my home. They ended up crashing at my place and two or three years later, this recording is one of the products of that fortuitous meeting!



Credits


Merlyn Driver: vocals, acoustic guitar, seed pods
Marja Mortensson: South Sámi joik
Michael Wilbur: saxophone & horns 
Anna De Mutiis: percussion
Viljam Nybacka: electric bass                                               
Anna Merryfield: backing vocals

Original composition by Merlyn Driver