When Mr. Pine released The Gift of Wolves in 2006, that album could be viewed as the result of a project – a whimsical collaboration between Matt McLennan and Kevin Scott that drew several other musicians into their orbit. Since then Mr. Pine has moved from project to band with a filled out roster that has grown to include Leslie Oldham (vocals), Richard Caners (violin), Jason Peters (guitar), and Ken Phillips (bass). The cohesiveness of these players is largely responsible for the great leap forward that Rewilding represents for Mr. Pine.
As with The Gift of Wolves, McLennan and Scott remain the songwriters for all of the material performed by the band but their collaborations have grown with their working familiarity and Rewilding finds them incorporating new sounds – including that other four letter word; prog – into the mix. While the material still nestles comfortably alongside the folk-rock of Fairport Convention, Rewilding stakes its own far-ranging territory with pop, baroque and post-rock incorporated as well.
One of the highlights of the album is “Sleep of Ondine,” the recording of which proved notable for Mr. Pine. The song features guest vocals from Alison O’Donnell of 70s Irish band Mellow Candle, a band McLennan and Scott share a love of. The pair never expected their homage to Mellow Candle would feature one of its vocalists.
“Streets of York” features another great collaboration, this one much closer to home. The band enlisted the help of Winnipeg indie legend Jay Churko (Chords of Canada, Transistor Sound & Lighting Co.) who somewhat surprisingly contributed banjo. The result is an obvious first single – but Mr. Pine isn’t about singles, and Rewilding should be taken as a richly rewarding whole.
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Individual track notes by Kevin Scott:
1. ACE OF CUPS I - One of the first songs we wrote for this album. A happy accident transpired when I passed along the music for several songs to Matt including this one, intending it as an instrumental, but a mixup occurred and Matt wrote words. Being very impressed with the lyrics and overall mood, however, it became clear this was not something to be discarded, and yet we still wanted to do the song in its original instrumental concept - so we ended up with two songs; same basic thematic material and yet they couldn’t be more different.
2. STREETS OF YORK - Originally an experiment in marrying an R.E.M. type song to early Steeleye Span, and yet it comes out as rather unabashed pop. There was no question this would be a good vehicle for Leslie to carry as a lead vocal. It wound up rather hummable. The concertina and violin parts fit together like a hand in a glove, luckily, and Leslie finds her folk voice. We\'d asked Jay Churko to be involved as we were planning the album, so he brought his banjo along for this track. Everyone liked this one a lot as we were putting it together.
3. SET PIECE - One of those joyous moments where something you write takes several strange turns along the way that no one expects. It struck me one day that Mr. Pine needed a FAST song with overcaffeinated drums and frantic strumming with perhaps something completely different in the middle before returning to the original tempo. And quite what Mr. McLennan has contributed lyrically here is anyone\'s guess, but never fails to make me smile. We needed something with a little humour and this fits the bill although it gives the pretty bit in the middle a touch of unintended irony. Oh well.
4. SLEEP OF ONDINE - Matt and I are huge Mellow Candle fans, they made one single album in 1972 which is astonishing and is always gaining new fans over the years as it\'s reissued and rediscovered. A chance reaching out to both of the women from the band (thank you Myspace) resulted in some interesting discussions and a proposal from Alison O\'Donnell that we collaborate. I still can’t believe it happened. An attempt was made to write a Mellow Candle homage without it sounding like an out and out ripoff. I hope we managed it. To my ears it sounds a bit like what a great lost Mellow Candle track might sound like, but perhaps I\'m a little biased. I hope we don’t get sued.
5. BLUE ONYX - I\'ve always wanted to write one that is folk-baroque to the core, with swirling violins and stately harpsichord, and I had the tune in my head one day - Matt rose to the occasion and, as he\'s so good at doing, turned out a lyric that fits the music perfectly and still maintains its enigmatic quality. Jason\'s finest hour as far as I\'m concerned, carrying the waltz along with his gorgeous strums in the middle section. Our session string players laughed a lot during recording. Laughing is OK as long as you don’t point.
6. GLASS PETALS - Written atypically in reverse order (lyrics first, music second), Matt had a fairly doomy and severe lyric ready and I could imagine it being a good heavy moment for us musically as well. I wrote the tune and promptly forgot how the lyrics fit. We only discovered during one of our recording sessions that we\'d ALL forgotten. We kind of crowbarred them in at the time but the results weren’t optimal. We wrote a fresh melody, rejigged it and the result is our one metal moment (thus far). Iron Maiden will lose no sleep.
7. THE ENCLAVE - Contrary to popular opinion, the idea here was NOT to write a pastoral folk song but instead something with the simplicity and straightforward quality of a hymn. But once the acoustics came out it turned into a capital F folk number replete with storytelling lyrics. And then we could hardly NOT add the recorders to it.
8. CYMBELINE - Written very much with Leslie in mind, we capitalize a little more on her sole vocal performance on \"Lancet\" from our first album but fully develop the idea with heavier and lighter parts. Our friend Kim contributes a bone chilling flute part and Richard supports it with his violin. I think this one reminds me of early 70s folk-rockers Spirogyra and they may have been the inspiration. Again Matt\'s obtuse lyric perfectly complements the music.
9. ROBIN\'S BREAST - A conscious decision was made after the last album to do a few songs a little more stripped back, and this is one of those. Originally it was just guitar and Matt\'s voice but we found areas where the others could add something without losing the stark feeling and keeping lots of space in the music. I wonder who Matt\'s singing about. I feel like I know her.
10. DIRGE - Began life as an acoustic guitar doodle at a rehearsal. I liked the results especially after I applied a capo to the guitar. It seemed like a sad number and coincided with the loss of my mother. Matt took the idea and ran with it, and then we thought it might benefit from a blurred and indistinct quality as the song progressed and utilized a bit of studio effects and trickery. We could never in a million years reproduce this one live this way, but it works as strictly a mood piece, sad/beautiful. Still gives me chills.
11. ACE OF CUPS II - Matt once proposed to me the idea of forming a post-rock band in the style of Mogwai or Godspeed You Black Emperor!. The band never took shape as we had too many other things going on, but the idea stayed with me and I wondered if we could encapsulate it into a single tour de force for the next CD. So here\'s the result - I\'m pleased that most of the band members get a little chance for a solo spot and the string/oboe players really went to town. With the first track I thought these would make pretty solid bookends.