Call To Mind – Scaling new heights

On Saturday 25th October Glasgow based band Call To Mind play their biggest headline show to date in their Highland homeland of Inverness.

The Inverness date at Eden Court Theatre is sure to be a highlight for the band who were recently playlisted on BBC Radio 1 in the wake of critical acclaim for their debut album, ‘The Winter Is White’.

The album released via successful Scottish DIY label Olive Grove Records draws influence from musical heroes such as Sigur Rós, The National and Kate Bush and their love of Scotland’s dramatic outdoors.  It’s fair to say that a lot of what the band do musically is rooted in their environment, upbringing and background which comes across clearly in their music.  Eden Court could be the perfect place to help the aural elements of their show bloom visually.

Explaining the outdoors influence on the album and ahead of climbing his 100th Munro, Call To Mind’s Martin Ross, who hails from Ardersier in the Scottish Highlands, talks about his passion for climbing, the outdoors and how it helped shape their music.

Martin started climbing in 2009 and since then has become a little obsessed in reaching the summits of all 282.

“My first Munro was Ben Vane, near Arrocher.  Setting off with Andrew (from the band) and Simon (who mixed our album), we took the ‘A’ route to the top – the quickest and steepest – directly up the south-side as opposed to the path, which winds and turns back and forth across the south-east of the mountain. The hill itself was very wet and soon we were soaked, even with waterproofs.  There was the odd break in the cloud, which emphasised how high we were getting, I hadn’t quite found my appetite for heights yet so continued to look up as opposed to immediately down below.  We got to the top after 2 and a bit hours, quick for a Munro.  Stopping for a quick bit to eat and a photo (they weren’t called “selfies” back then), we descended down, using our waterproof trousers to maximum effect as we slid down the wet grassy slopes on our backsides.

We pitched our tents at the base of Ben Vane before launching up neighbouring Ben Ime, which was beside it, just as the dark was setting in.  Headtorches were turned on so we could see where to step.  It took longer than we had anticipated reaching the top and was a very steep climb.  We stayed briefly on the summit before hurrying back down before it got too dark to see.  In our haste however, we chose the wrong turn off!  This meant sliding down scree (very loose little rocks) on our heels and then a long trudge around the base of the Munro to get back to our camp, which by then was in the early hours of the morning, very tired and dishevelled.

Our album was heavily influenced by the Highlands and all the epic scenery that goes with it – we’re lucky to have such cinematic extremes on our doorstep.  One of my favourite songs on the album, ‘Passing Drumochter’, was written with those hills around the A9 in mind.  I’ve always been fascinated by them since childhood, heading south in the car on various family holidays as a kid.  Sat in the back seat, looking out across that expansive landscape, it seemed to go on forever.  We actually managed to capture some stunning winter scenes on the train heading up through Drumochter last winter, passing the hills and frozen rivers in depths of December – and it fits the tune perfectly.

Currently I am sitting on 98 Munros and have been for a few months, so I’m looking forward to reaching my 100 Munro milestone.  There are still quite a few places in Scotland where I can bag more than a single Munro in one day, and have a trip planned for early October with Simon near Blair Atholl.  Climbing these hills is all about escapism, having space to think, catching-up with friends, and taking the time to appreciate our surroundings.  There’s nothing else quite like it.

As I think back over the last few years, the people I’ve climbed with, the situations I’ve found myself in, navigation mishaps, getting caught in white-outs (cloud), specific routes, standout trips: an ice climb of the mighty Tower Ridge on the North Face of Ben Nevis – which at 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) is the tallest of the 282 Munros; traversing Anoch Egach in winter; completing 7 Munros in a day on the South Shilds Ridge; Buchialle Etive Mhor (the most photographed Munro, due to its imposing position right beside the A82 in Glencoe); spending the night on top of the Mamores (a ridge walk across 10 Munros near Kinlochlevan); The Horns of Alligin in Torridon; I could go on and on.

Whilst there is a sense of atmosphere, hope and calmness on the record (Over The Machair); at points it does become ferocious and volatile (The Wound and The Gift).  Scotland and the landscape can throw all sorts of things at you, on one hand you can get a simple hill, a clear sunny day with not a cloud in the sky (Mount Keen was like that for me); but you could do the same hill on a different day, with different weather and it’s a totally different experience.  Snow is another example of this – winter conditions at their best can make for an idyllic climb but winter at its worst can be terrifying.  I’ve had a few close calls when the elements have conspired against me, but it makes you appreciate things when they go your way.  These experiences have shaped how I write my music; as it is when I sit at the piano and turn on the delay pedal that I have them chiefly in mind.

I’m looking forward to our show at Eden Court.  We are going to incorporate the landscapes which have influenced the album to our set so the audience will hear and see things from both from an audio and visual perspective.  From the jagged mountains of Torridon and Skye to the snowy hills of Drumochter, we’ll also show scenery from the Black Isle, Cromarty, Ardersier and Moray Firth.”

Joining Call To Mind at Eden Court, Inverness will be Scotland’s most sought after ensemble, the Cairn String Quartet and Inverness lo-fi, roots influenced Dr. Wook.

Tickets for Call To Mind at Eden Court are on sale priced £8 (in advance) and are available in person from Eden Court Box Office or on line at Eden Court.

The Son (s) – ‘The Things I Love Are Not at Home’

Mysterious Scottish outfit The Son (s) are set to release their new record, ‘The Things I Love Are Not at Home’.

With the support of Creative Scotland and Olive Grove Records the 10 track album will be unleashed on the record buying public from October 27th.

The album features collaborations with RM Hubbert and Pete MacDonald from Olive Grove label mates The State Broadcasters.

The sleeve features artwork courtesy of acclaimed artist/photographer Alastair Cook.

“The Things I Love Are Not at Home” will be available to buy on October 27th in record shops and online via Olive Grove Records & The Son (s) Bandcamp on heavyweight 12 inch vinyl (and download).

You can grab a free download from the album right now.  The track ’Death, With Castanets’, is available here.  The track was recently featured on BBC 6Music.