Sunday, 18 April 2010

Ash Ra Tempel and the Holy Isle

Well for the last week I've been on the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. The weather was most certainly on side and the highlight of the week had to be a trip to the nearby Holy Isle. This island was the site of a 13th Century monastery and is now owned by the Samye Ling Buddhist Community.
On our arrival we were greeted by a Buddhist monk, who informed us that it was possible to climb to the summit, head around the far side and be back for a boat within 2-4 hours. This was like throwing down the gauntlet, a challenge it was simply impossible to refuse and one hour later, both breathless but happy my partner Vicky and I had reached the top.
Known for centuries as a sacred site Holy Isle was without exception the most peaceful place I have ever visited, the only sounds at high altitude being that of the wind and the gulls above.
A march back to the tiny jetty in time for the boat and we had returned to the mainland within 3 hours of arriving, exhausted and ready for lunch.
During my restful stay in Arran I have been listening to Talking Heads, Frank Zappa and also Friendship and Gin Rose, the two Ash Ra Tempel reunion albums released ten years ago. So far I have avoided writing notes for these CDs as I wanted to spend some time carefully absorbing the subtleties of the music. Repeated listening and a measure of concentration really pays rewards with these records and by the time of my return to Newcastle yesterday I found myself ready to write about them. This pretty much takes things up-to-date, as I have spent today putting my thoughts into a Word document. I'm pleased to say that I have now written notes for almost all of Manuel Gottsching's albums and for my next writing session I will need to pop back to Ashra's visit to Japan in 1997.....
Until the next time....