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 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!).
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!
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