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Scottish folk duo Joseph Peach and Charlie Grey from Lismore are releasing their new album Spiorachas – A High Place on October 1.
Fiddle player Charlie lives on the Isle of Lismore where in his free time he restores small boats, occasionally works on a creel fishing boat, and spends his time walking his border collie Hector.
Charlie is also an outstanding musician, having spent time studying the fiddle, Gypsy Jazz, Bluegrass, Blues-fiddle music, and mastering his own aesthetic of improvisation.
A composer as well, Charlie soaked up the musical influences of his surroundings from his friends, family, and legendary grandma ‘Gaelic Diva’ Ishbel MacAskill.
Joseph Peach, a pianist and composer, hails from the small town of Achiltibuie, in the north-west Scottish Highlands.
Graduating with a Masters degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Joseph’s musical studies also include classical and jazz, and a passion for the Scottish pianist and composer Ronald Stevenson.
Developed through improvisation, Charlie and Joseph reinterpret the traditional Scottish Gaelic melodies of times past, continuing their multi-generational story, as well as introducing new pieces of their own.
The album’s focus track, Cailleach, also draws upon a traditional Gaelic song: Cailleach a’ Ghobhainn.
Inspired by the field recordings of a woman local to Joseph’s home village of Achiltibue, Cailleach a’ Ghobhainn is a prime example of a puirt à beul: a traditional song form native to Scotland which set lyrics to instrumental tunes.
The album’s first single, Gathan-grèin, was composed by Joseph as he took in the inspiring crepuscular sunbeams off the coast of Scotland.
This single provides a vivid and life-affirming introduction to Spiorachas- A High Place.
Ghruamach, the album’s second single, parallels the traditional folk tune A Chollie Ghruamach.
Originating from 1820s Nova Scotia, the celebrated Bàrd MacGilleathain composed the song to portray the hardships of the pioneering Scottish settlers having arrived from across the Atlantic Ocean.
Throughout Spiorachas, Charlie can be heard playing on a Hardanger D’Amore, an incredibly rare, ten-string Norwegian bowed instrument designed and built by Salve Håkedal.
Only the 33rd Hardanger D’Amore ever made, Charlie’s instrument is likely one of a kind in Scotland.
‘The landscape surrounding Lismore is a constant source of inspiration to me,’ Charlie told The Oban Times.
‘It is a truly unique place. I always think of the island being trapped between worlds: you have the dramatic hills of Ben Nevis, Ben Cruachan, Glen Creran and the back of Glencoe on one side; the barren highland landscape of Morven to your north; the rolling lush green to your south that is so unique to Argyll; and finally to your west you have the Western Isles, the gateway to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.
‘It is not so much of a what am I going to write about, but more what am I going to write about next.
‘My grandmother Ishbel Macaskill was a great Gaelic singer and known throughout the world for her music.
‘Although me and my siblings were aware that she toured the world singing, it wasn’t something we ever thought much about when we were with her, as she was just granny to us.
‘Unfortunately she passed away when I was in my young teens, just as I was starting to take my music more seriously.
‘I’d love to say I had played lots of music with her and we had collaborated on projects together, but time didn’t allow us that pleasure.
‘Her presence lives on, however, and it’s one of the great joys in my life to meet new people all over the world who knew and loved her as I did.’
After the release of Spiorachas- A High Place, Charlie and Joe will be sitting down with musicians for a series of intimate and personal conversations discussing creation, collaboration and inspiration on their new podcast show, launching in November.
Guests will include Duncan Chisholm, Josie Duncan, Mairi Campbell, and Annie Grace.
More recently, Charlie and Joseph released Air lomall – a film and suite of music inspired by the voyage on the Dutch tall ship Wylde Swan to the now uninhabited islands deep in the North Atlantic.
Pic: Charlie Grey on fiddle and Joseph Peach on piano. NO_T36Lismorefiddler01_Charlie-Grey_Joseph-Peach-scaled.jpg