It gives me great pleasure to share ‘In The ShadowLand’ from The St Illtud’s Sessions, recorded live on location.
I have a growing interest in field recordings, so when the opportunity to record at the remarkable St Illtud’s Church in Llantwit Major came along , I welcomed it with open arms.
The project evolved from visits to St Illtuds, playing at the monthly open mic there and creative conversations with music enthusiast Canon Edwin Counsell and musician-producer Kevs Ford.
Our field recordings from this ancient space will not be perfect but will hopefully capture in someway the essence of this sacred place.
We kept the set up and the tracks simple, using condenser mics and an ambient room mic for live recording, in the extraordinary Galilee Chapel, home to an incredible collection of Celtic Stones.
On ‘In The Shadowland’ Peter Rosser accompanies me beautifully on acoustic guitar. Recording at St Illtuds, has really meant a great deal to me, as I feel a deep sense of connection to Llanilltud Fwar.
I wrote ‘In The Shadowland’ when I came home after an evening at Company of Words a open mic of spoken word and song organised by a friend and a fundraiser for Papyrus, the National charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. The sorrow and the hope shared that evening stayed with me, I was profoundly moved and the song welled up in me. It was late, I picked up my guitar and very quietly wrote ‘In The Shadowland’
I wasn’t aware until I played the song to a friend that it echoed a line from the exquisite “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats, inspired by the song of a nightingale, it was written in 1819, and has it’s centenary in 2019. The poem must have been in my subconscious when I was writing.
“Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known”
An extract from John Keats ‘Ode To A Nightingale’
Kevs and I started our musical journey together a few years ago when we recorded my song ‘Our Places’ live by the River Ely in Cardiff. The St Illtud’s Session have been a great opportunity for us to get back to where we first started and explore ideas and sounds in situ.
After our first day of recording I wrote a short tone poem, a site specific composition called ‘ Living Stones’. To help me gain a better sense of the space, in the summer I spent an afternoon sitting amongst the ancient Celtic stones in The Galilee Chapel, sketching The Houelt cross, listening to the sounds in and around the building.
The St Illtud’s Sessions are an ongoing project which we hope to keep exploring and developing. We are listening back in the studio our field recordings and hope to have enough material for an EP.
My warmest thanks are given to the St Illtud’s community who have encouraged my music and helped make this project possible. There is a great wealth of talent and sharing of creativity at the Open Mic which runs on the first Friday of each month, run by Peter Cronin and friends.
There is much to be discovered at the ancient site of St Illtud’s and the surrounding area of Llantwit Major. I look forward to what will be revealed next on this creative journey and I hope dear reader you will check in along the way.
Recorded live on location by Kevs Ford at The Galilee Chapel, St Illtuds, Llantwit Major, Wales
Written by Bel Blue
Bel Blue: vocals, guitar
Peter Rosser: vocals, guitar
Produced by Kevs Ford and Bel Blue
Massive thanks to St Illtud’s Church, Edwin and friends
Photography Jack Constable @jacsimages