This is an all-instrumental album, lasting a neat 44 minutes, with a beautiful sleeve design by Alex Smee and an insert with detailed track notes and credits.
The 'Ice Museum Suite', which takes up seven of this album's nine tracks, was inspired by two books on Arctic travel and history: Joanna Kavenna's 'The Ice Museum: In Search Of The Lost Land Of Thule' and Gavin Francis' 'True North: Travels In Arctic Europe'. Based around a periodically recurring motif (most prominent in the first three parts), the music is, by turns, windswept and mysterious, poignant, regretful, sinister and howling with rage like a Polar storm. Much of the music is acoustic guitar led, featuring a fabulous handmade Avalon 'Millenium Oak' model, with additional instruments adding colour including Keith Jarret-esque piano, clarinet, violin, flugelhorn, drums and synth. The title track, however, is a blistering 12 minute progressive-rock jam - electric guitar, Hammond organ and drums. Two gentle pieces - for clarinet/acoustic guitar and for string quartet - round things off.
Perhaps my two biggest inspirations for the Ice Museum Suite were Dutch guitarist (ex of Focus) Jan Akkerman - whose spirit and sound in both acoustic and electric playing I can 'hear' throughout it, although I don't claim to be in any way close to his musicianship - and the 1971 Mahavishnu Orchestra track 'You Know, You Know', which provided the template for the 'architecture' of the central motif in the suite. Other than that, I guess there are echoes of Bert Jansch's 1978 instrumental album 'Avocet' in the general spitit of the thing and perhaps Brian Eno's ambient music in 'The Last Place On Earth' and Martin Carthy's style of playing on 'Rachelle' (which certainly uses his singular guitar tuning!).
It was a joy to make, and I can only hope people enjoy listening to it.
An album's worth of vocal music written and mostly recorded at the same time as the instrumental material will be released later in 2010.