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BRIAN MCALPINE - Mutual Imagination Society Vol. 1

BRIAN MCALPINE - Mutual Imagination Society Vol. 1
Private Label CD001 

This first solo release by this illustrious, widely experienced, cross genre, multi instrumentalist of the Scottish music scene (aka Beard McAlpine) is a beautiful conceptual sequence of evocative compositions inspired by life and landscape.

The 11 original pieces were all composed, arranged, performed, produced and recorded by Brian deploying an array of stringed instruments (plucked, strummed and hammered) and percussion with carefully selected guests adding brass, strings, and some soprano saxophone, Highland pipes and vocals. Drawing on Scottish and other European folk traditions and their melodic idioms, interwoven with threads of classical, jazz and contemporary composed music, the material is orchestrated into movements to create wide, richly atmospheric and filmic soundscapes composed with considerable dynamic range and presence. Recognising the strength of space and minimalism, with sometimes acutely and achingly engaging acoustic piano parts in particular, and the carefully layered development of melodic motifs, there is an intense and entrancing quality to the music.

Brian writes in his accompanying notes of “the quiet power of tranquillity” and “beauty in sadness” and this soulful and immersive soundtrack to his life’s complex geographical and emotional journeyings certainly evinces both celebratory joy and troubled angst through a musical palette of colours and moods of darkness and light. Inspired by years of being stirred by the “ever changing beautiful landscapes of Scotland” and the reflective and spiritual potential for personal expression through music, from the almost 11 minute showcase opening Suite #1 through to parting piece Soundtrack To Peace, this is a profoundly moving, carefully crafted labour of love that sumptuously realises its expansive philosophical ambition.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.