Tinderbox Album: A Track-By-Track Introduction
The ‘Tinderbox Anthem’, this track is the beating heart of the album, and the wider collective. It’s a rallying cry, an inclusive musical mission statement. Rappers squeeze in beside the string section, who jostle for space with a mighty all-ages choir; it’s evolved over the years to include everyone the orchestra works with, and features over 200 young performers. Whether it’s amateur young musicians or aspiring professionals, voices from across the city come together to make a mighty noise!
A fiendish fusion of rock and chamber music, this menacing track was composed by Frazer Knox as part of a creative workshop run by Tinderbox. It was the rst piece he’d ever written with an orchestra in mind, and it has been performed regularly by the group ever since. Pronounced ‘Ket-zal-ko-at-al’ it was released as the orchestra’s rst single in January, and was premiered on Vic Galloway’s BBC Scotland show.
Captain Beefheart’s Memorial Picnic
Charting the classical lineage of funk music, composition lecturer Richard Worth introduces this piece he wrote for the orchestra:
In a 1967 edition of US teeny POP magazine Hit Parader Frank Zappa suggested readers “buy everything that you can by Igor Stravinsky and dance to it – especially “L’Histoire Du Soldat”, which means “Soldier’s Tale”, and the “Agon” ballet, which is a beautiful thing”.
As a teenager he formed a friendship with Don Van Vliet who was to become Captain Beefheart. It was a match made in a less than perfect heaven. Locked in Zappa’s room they listened to blues records, Varese, modern jazz etc. and eventually began their own music making, which for most people probably culminated in Troutmask Replica – produced by Zappa and it’s still regarded as one of rock’s most dif cult records.
I shamelessly channelled Stravinsky in this tune and that in uence naturally, even inevitably, leads to funk (yes that is correct –there is quite a bit of funk to be found in Stravinsky). In doing that I am probably in uenced by Zappa more than a bit. Since Frank named a composition after great saxophonist/ autist/bass clarinettist Eric Dolphy I lifted/adapted this title: The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue.
Talking About Birds II:
The unique intersection where Chinese folk-punk, meets an orchestra for a song about hoopoes, ravens and geese (!)
On a cultural exchange programme in 2013 Tinderbox founder Jack Nissan met avant-garde pioneer Song Yuzhe, whose own journey had taken him from singing in one of China’s rst punk bands to exploring outsider music and rural folk music cultures.Yuzhe’s band ‘DaWangGang’ were invited over for a sold out production, ‘Journey of a Thousand Wings’, at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall. Their album ‘Huang Qiang Zou Ban’ was described as ‘one of the strangest, most oddly compelling albums of the year’ by the Guardian and won the German Critics Award for Best Album of the Year. Filled with experimental sounds, screams and scratches from the full orchestra and choir, ‘Talking About Birds II’ is Tinderbox’s extraordinary interpretation of one of the highpoints of that record.
Written by Tinderbox stalwart Luci Holland, Rimo was originally composed to accompany a game where a fairy goblin navigates a swamp of Japanese algae. Sometimes, however, a melody just demands reinterpretation. Starting life as a synth-curio it has evolved, with the addition of strings and woodwind, to become arguably the most elegant piece in the orchestra’s repertoire.
For the last 20 years internationally renowned composer and music therapist Nigel Osborne (O.B.E) has run the Balkans Music Camps. Based in former Yugoslavia, they use music as a means to alleviate trauma and suffering in the wake of civil war. More recently, the camps have come to focus on supporting those with disabilities and special educational needs. Erik Balija, the lead singer on this collaboration, is one of the longest-standing participants at the camps, and recently reached the nal of the Croatian X-factor-esque television show ‘Supertalent’.
Live Free or Die:
The best collaborations take place in that rare sweet spot, where both parties elevate each other, creating something that is greater than the sum of its parts.Toby Mottershead has long been an active alchemist on the local Edinburgh music scene.This irresistible rootsy anthem was written with his band The Black Diamond Express, and effortlessly recalls the likes of Beirut, with the help of a soaring string section.
Cas Na Caora:
Demonstrating the remarkable breadth of the record, this foot-stomping romp of a piece was composed by celebrated trad-music torchbearer Padruig Morrison, and arranged for the orchestra by Graham Coe (of ‘The Jellyman’s Daughter’ fame). Featuring the impressive talent on show in the Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin, this was a joint project with the Scottish Archive, and involved the young composers raking through old photographs, songs and stories to fuel the writing process. In an album full of international avours and textures,‘Cas Na Caora’ brings us emphatically, irrefutably back to Tinderbox’s country of origin: Scotland.
We often hear players say that the orchestra has helped them gain in con dence musically. ‘Aftermath’, by Graham Coe, was the rst piece written for the orchestra by one of its own members. Graham completed a Tinderbox apprenticeship as part of 2014’s ‘Journey of a Thousand Wings’ production, which was designed to give young musicians greater opportunities in arranging and conducting. He has become an important role model in the group, with many other young musicians following his example and composing for the orchestra. Neatly juggling Arabic melody with heavy rock and western harmony,‘Aftermath’ is a magic carpet ride on a deep, dark night – a tting curtain call for this truly adventurous record.
**** The Guardian **** The Scotsman **** The List
Further Album Info