Shed Life - Sketch

Skye Recording

I still prefer CDs for review. The physical stack of ‘to do’ discs on the right hand side of my desk is a constant visual reminder to get busy, and anything can inspire comment, including the package or the design on the CD itself. But, there are legitimate exceptions to be made, as former Peatbog Faeries drummer, Iain Copeland reminded me in his email reply to my request for a copy of Shed Life, the new release from his project called Sketch. “The nearest post office is an hour away. Can you work from a download for now?” Iain and about 9 thousand others, lives on the Isle of Skye, the most northerly in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides and home to Peatbog Faeries and much sought after single malt whiskeys. Shed Life could refer to his remote lifestyle or simply the act of withdrawing to place of solitude to create. Writers know about Shed Life. Bernard Shaw dignified his shed as a ‘writing hut’. And, what band has not gone through the obligatory phase of ‘wood-shedding it’? But, in this case, as explained in the introduction to the liner notes, the sheds of the Scottish highlands stand empty for a couple of months during the summer before the farmers bring in the hay. During those dormant periods the sheds become ceilidh-central (think barn dance) and lately, more akin to rave ups featuring local DJs and musicians. Sketch strikes forth covering some similar ground to the Peatbogs and I for one, couldn’t be happier. The fusion that, for lack of a better label, let’s call Celtic-Psyche is a personal favorite, be it from the Afro Celt Sound System, Kila, Peatbog Faeries and now Sketch. The cyclical melodies of pipe or fiddle-lead reels seem perfectly suited to drum programming and electronic sequencing. Troubling a trend as it may seem to purists of Celtic tradition, I honestly believe, given these contemporary tools of music composition, the ancients would have woven similar entrancements. Sketch is Maeve Makinnon adding voice, Neil Ewart, fiddles, Steven Blake, pipes and whistles, Chris Waite, guitars and Iain Copeland holding down the drumming and programming. The tracks have much to say about life in the highlands and draw on a variety of local musical idioms like puirt (Gaelic mouth music) strathspeys and waulking songs which wrap up tributes to local landmarks and heroes and Skye-centric tales. I fully intend to get my hands on the CD in the summer of 2012 when band joins us at the Harrison Festival of The Arts in beautiful British Columbia.