Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Lady Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey, spring 2003

I've just been compiling a CD of music I've recorded with various people at various sacred sites around Britain, particularly along the "Michael-Mary line". This is going to be a gift for Phil Lesh, whose recent autobiography has reminded me of his interest in the geomancy of the British Isles, sacred geometry (according to David Dodd's book he even met author John Michell when over here in '72). If it actually makes it into his hands, I expect he'll be pleasantly amused to know that there are people again gathering at these sites and making cosmic/ecstatic music in a spirit he will be familiar with.

In the process, I realise how little material I have recorded at Glastonbury - nothing from the Tor (depite having played up there a lot over the years). Usually it just seems inappropriate to set up recording gear (or the ever-present wind makes it somewhat pointless). I did find one thing, recorded in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey ruins back in March 2003. I can remember this time clearly, as the invasion of Iraq seemed to be unstoppable, despite the massive protests going on. I got a bus up to Glastonbury to connect with Stef, remember him and Tom meeting me at the bus stop by the memorial cross at the bottom of the High Street, Tom playing his funny-shaped African drum. Later that day we ended up joining forces with David (formerly of the Vienna Boys' Choir, now an Avalonian hippie musician) and the faerie poet Kelfin, who I knew from Dublin when he was just Kevin. This led to a spontaneous session at the Abbey - not musically brilliant - the drumming's just a bit too overbearing, but Stef makes up for it in places with some punchy concertina playing. I'm hammering away at my saz throughout.

Lady Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey
Lady Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey

I might just extract a couple of minutes of this for the CD, for completeness' sake. I have some nice stuff from various locations in Cornwall, as well as Avebury and some Dronings from Crediton.

Stef - concertina, mandolin
me - saz
Banana Tom - percussion
Kelfin - percussion
David - voice, recorder, percussion

Banana Tom's drumming is somewhat overpowering, but he was very much in the spirit of the moment. Some punchy concertina playing from Stef largely redeems these spontaneous recordings. David at one point sings the ancient fertility song "Pat-a-Pan".

Listen Here

Abbey ruins in Avalonian mist geometric plan of the Lady Chapel
Abbey ruins in Avalonian mist, geometric plan of the Lady Chapel

The geometry of the Abbey, particularly the Lady Chapel is fascinating, and has been explored by writers such as John Michell. This chapel is the supposed site of the first Christian Church built in the British Isles, built, according to legend, by Joseph of Arimathea. Here is an introductory website.


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