Adenine releases a self-titled debut album.
Available on 12″ vinyl, CD and download, it comprises the first recordings by composer, harpist, vocalist and sound recorder Ailie Robertson under her new monicker.
Mixing harp with field recordings and ambient noise, and described as “a record about nature and our place in the landscape”, the five tracks – spanning 40 minutes – are also an ode to Scottish nature and lost language.
Taking its lead from the claim by anthropologist Franz Boas that some Inuit-Yupik-Unangan languages had hundreds of different words for snow, the song titles – ‘Smirr’, ‘Spindrift’, ‘Flindrikin’, ‘Aftak’ and ‘Haar’ – all refer to types of rain; from light drizzle, to sea spray to a coastal mist.
However, Robertson describes how they also represent the erosion of nature and the gradual disappearance of language connected to nature.
‘Aftak’ features a crackling recording of Skye poet Norman MacDonald reciting his 1937 poem ‘Don Eilean Sgitheanach’.
Growing up in Edinburgh, Robertson spent a lot of time on Skye as a child, visiting family during holidays.
Despite having played piano from the age of 8 and harp from 12, she actually chose to study genetics at Cambridge University due to being “too shy” to audition for music college.
However, she took a masters in music performance and has been composing and performing ever since.
“Walking in the Scottish highlands is like a lesson in time and impermanence,” she explains. “As you hike trails that have been tread by generations before, you see change all around you – mountains and valleys carved by Ice Age glaciers, abandoned homes and shelters, wind farms appearing on the horizon.
“And walking alone, you become attuned to the sounds around you on the trail: the song of a bird, a brook, a spring, a waterfall, the wind through the leaves, my boots on the ground, twigs breaking, gravel being disturbed, far off traffic. Being alone in nature gives one the opportunity to see and hear things appear and pass.
“A piece of music does that same thing. Each note recorded is something that arose and ceased within time. I wanted this album to capture that sense of being very rooted in something ancient, yet also modern and fresh. Something that would paint images in the mind, just like the objects along the trail.”
Robertson describes the music as “misremembered folk music, seen from new angles, never quite within grasp.”
“I love the rain,” she adds. “I love how it makes a different sound on every surface – pattering on the roof, dripping from gutters, drumming against a rain jacket hood,” says Robertson. “Language matters, our connection with nature matters…if we lose that then it’s something we might never get back.”