In 2006 I made a white top hat and a black top hat. In the night I woke up, put the hats on in front of the mirror, and out came the two poems “Shade’s Theme” and “Flake’s Theme”. I proceeded to make two costumes, write music for them using my loop machine, and started performing the two pieces in open mics. The poem “The Crystal Joy” followed in 2007 (performed at The Bath Story Telling Circle), but it wasn’t until 2009 that the concept E.P. took shape, and not until 2011 that the prologue and epilogue poems were written and recorded.
The opening piece contains the lines:
From out two hats the brothers crept
to duel upon the life of knots entwined.
So know we well, how through the darkness pass
the tormented writhings of our minds.
and the final piece contains the lines:
You who would the knots of night to make untie
In error do you toil alone.
Our knots shall breaken be, by the medicines of laughter
And melted by the warmth of gentles’ love
Copyright Ash Mandrake 2011
These are reflections from personal experience of struggling through depression, and how the way through it may be simpler than one might imagine at the time. The Shade and Flake poems are below:
In darkness lurk all creeping forms.
From shadows stare unlidded eyes.
In absence find my mark;
For I am Shade.
Two things I tell to thee:
In the tieing of knots, therein my children are conceived.
In the simple black of night, there emptiness resides.
And darkness weighs like lead inside my boots.
To earth I say!
To hidden places send a shudder
Such as would crack the rock of caves and wake the dead.
For I am Shade!
Through wisps of cloud, I float in timeless trance.
In the froth of waves, I play till seas fall still.
In snow, I lie and sleep;
For I am Flake.
Two things I say to you:
In the breaking of knots, therein all darkness is dispelled.
Every snow-flake is a tiny cathedral.
And light I am upon the air,
And light I am to earth,
Where here I sit waiting for the tenderness of melting;
Wherein I shall unlock my form and trickle out to sea;
For I am Flake
Copyright Ash Mandrake 2006
Th 6 track E.P. was released at the following event:
An Evening of Music And Story
At Fell Edge Farm, West Yorkshire
Saturday, November 19 2011
The “Shade and Flake” E.P. is going to form the centre piece of my new album, which I hope to release in early 2012
Here’s a list of the tracks:
1/ Prologue: Knot Maker
2/ The Crystal Joy
3/ Shade’s Theme
4/ Knot Duel
5/ Flake’s Theme
6/ Epilogue: Knot Breaker
Tracks 1,4 and 6 include drum work by the demon percussionists Mendhi Singh (Tabla) and Breda Horgan (Bodhrn). In track four, they have an almighty scrap (duel).
Tracks 2,3 and 5 have very rich mixes – I’m very excited about people hearing this E.P and the forthcoming album.
The following people were directly involved with this project, and thanks are due:
Paul Nocher for the loan of a recording system and Mic
Adam at The Percy Community Centre for use of a room for recording
James King for the recording and mixing of Flake’s Theme in 2007
Sprog for recording of the vocals on track 1 and 6 and the mastering of the E.P
Frances Powell for organising the E.P. Launch event at Fell edge Farm