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Barbara Hills – The Flowers Suite

 

Barbara Hills has just released an album called “The Flowers Suite”. It is a collection of eclectic tone poems and sound paintings that each take a flower as the starting point. From there the compositions broaden out in different ways on different tracks.

“The album was inspired in the wake of a dream,” says Barbara Hills. “I stood at the fork in a lane where a new way had appeared. I felt very drawn to the untrodden path that lead into new fields. In the dream, I didn’t take the path and really regretted it. When the path appeared in reality, I knew I had to go, even though it was, in many ways, a wrench to leave. I headed out, deep into fair, unknown country…”

“The Flowers Suite was written as I relocated from England to Wales,” adds Barbara. “It is a collection of twelve tracks, each of which takes a flower as its starting point. I am painting in sound, combining the acoustic and electronic with recordings of natural sounds. The limited edition (300), signed CD is presented in a little hardback book containing photos of some of my paintings and plants that have inspired the music.”

Some background on a few of the tracks, by the artist:

Hedgerow Walk: “This is a long track (16 minutes) in five movements. There is no English word that adequately describes what it is about but the Welsh word for it is ‘hiraeth’. Hiraeth means being bound up with the land, the memory, the departed joys and the longings for a place or time that has gone and will never return – or, perhaps, never really was. For me, this piece is about my perception of times and places in the countryside I have left. In a way, I’ve painted them in sound to keep them. It’s full of English and Celtic folk influences. The last movement, ‘Mayblossom’, describes my sadness at leaving hawthorn trees planted by my Grandfather. At the end lies a revelation: I am looking down into a gift – the crowns of countless hawthorns stretching to the horizon.  And they are all flowering beneath cloud shadows, in shades of cream and pink. The loss turns into peace and amazement. It took me a while to understand the meaning of it: in reality, I have returned to the place of my Grandfather’s ancestors!”

Through Iris Halls: “This is a piece which describes what it must be like for a tiny insect to travel through an iris flower. It looks up into a vast blue cathedral of a roof and an endless sky beyond.”

Forget-Me-Nots: “This is a similar idea to the symbolism of the poppy but I would describe this as a happy death song, one final wave before skipping into eternity. In the spring after the death of my father, the garden was filled with forget-me-nots.”

Where Heather Grows: “I am sitting in the mountains where I live in Wales. There are buzzards around and the heather is flowering. But I am aware of ages past when quarries were mined and the quiet hamlet below was a different place. I am thinking about the many people who lived, worked and died and feeling privileged to be part of the continuation of life here.”

This album is largely electronic symphonic together with acoustic instruments and live recordings. It’s very varied – synths with classical, folk, world, prog and electronica overtones liberally scattered around!

The album is available on Bandcamp.