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Suggested Albums : Loreena Mc Kennitt : "The Book of Secrets" (1997) - Her own comments

Loreena comments on the album's recording process - Official Newsletter

When I came across the quote "A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving", I felt I had discovered the encapsulation of not only the manner in which this and almost all of my odier recordings have unfolded, but of an aspect of my life in general.

I had always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but here I am a musician with my own business. No doubt most people have encountered diis humbling phenomenon. No matter what plans you make sometimes, life just comes pouring down on top of you, in ways and at times you least expect it, and it carries you off in directions you could never have imagined or hoped for.

On a personal level, my challenge has been to acquire the maturity to know what to do with those unexpected experiences: when to hang onto something and when to let it go; whether one should fight it instead, to go with it, and seek out the jewels of newfound experience and the which lie within each of us to take something positive from it.

So, as these musical chemistry experiments come to a close, no doubt you will later come across something which will have me describing the process of approaching recording as a sort of musical travel writing.

It would be impossible to describe for you the varied and numerous events and personal exchanges which occurred during the span of research and recording that never ceased even when the last mix was done.

The very extensive liner notes to this recording (28 pages in all) touch on a number of its sources of inspiration, whedier they were books I had read or experiences I had. Sometimes the pan-Celtic springboard would project me into corners of history such as those you'll find touched upon in "Skellig", namely the Dark Ages monasteries in Ireland where monks copied out ancient manuscripts in a technique associated with the east, thus re-introducing these texts to thecontinent at a time when die Roman empire was disintegrating.

Or I would find myself on an excavation site in Tuscany accompanied by a wonderfull team of archaeologists led by Noelle and David Soren from die University of Arizona, examining the history of the Etruscans who were contemporaries of the Celts and who, togedier with them, are believed to have influenced the Romans in the areas of design, architecture and urban planning.

At other times, however, that springboard would ultimately lead me into areas that had little or no connection whatsoever to the Celts, such as a train trip I took across Siberia which was an experience later woven into the song "Dante's Prayer".

"The Mummers' Dance" was the culmination of a long line of research exercises which began by visiting a puppetmaker by the ñame of Cuticchio in Palermo, Sicily and which ended up at the traditional May Day celebrations in Padstow, Cornwall.

The actual process of recording "The Book Of Secrets" took place over the span of a year or so at Real World Studios in England. Real World is Peter Gabriel's wonderful rural residential recording facility, comprised of various sizes and configurations of studio environments that at times make the place feel like a cross between a commune and a kibbutz. At the dinner table (which is always a magnificent feast) one can be sitting next to engineers, producers and musicians who might be associated with anyone from Massive Attack or Black Grape to Sheila Chandra.

What made this arrangement particularly attractive to me (aside from the fact that it is located in a stunningly beautiful part of the world), was that I knew that as the recording evolved I would probably want to have access to a rather eclectic assembly of instruments and players, over and above my regular crew of "idling Porsches". The studio is only an hour and a half away from London, a Mecca for oíd and strange instruments and players (no offence meant!) so Real World also offered me the opportunity to paint quite spontaneously, musically speaking.

The main control room, which was the environment where we primarily worked, has a glorious front window which leads onto a pond with ducks and swans, and when I tired of watching the musicians preening themselves (just kidding!) I could always gaze out the window and see the fowl doing the same.

Some of my most favourite moments were when the room was filled to the rafters with people (sometimes there were 13 on the deck at the same time) playmg together and working creatively ofFeach other: my regular colleague on fiddle, Hugh Marsh, jamming with the Egyptian fiddler Osama, or the faces of Martin Brown and Martin Jenkifls when we called them back for the tenth time for the sixth versión of "The Highwayman", or the bemused but good-humoured patience of Nick Hayley when our engineering assistant Jacquie Turner and I got into plastering our faces with purple dots for no other reason than to test his sense of humour.

Of course, the whole exercise of running a one-artist label and management can get a little intense to not have some fun, so I am presently exploring the prospects of creating a cartoon strip based on Quinlan Road, so stay tuned for further developments.
In the meantime, I do hope you like the new recording. And if not, as a friend of mine always says, you can always slip it under the short leg of the table.

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