1. The Unknown Destination - A Call to Journey

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeThis is one of my favourite illustrations in the book, with its different, interwoven shades of blue (my favourite colour!) and green. I love the way Mary has constructed the cross with its earthiness and Celtic style swirls.

The use of the natural sounds of the gulls, the gently lapping waves and (in the background) the St Mary’s church bell are all calls for us to begin our journey. To set sail, as St Brendan did, with no preconceptions as to where we will go, but to trust and follow the Lord our our hearts and lives on the incredible adventure that He has for us.

This was one of the first pieces we recorded for the project, David and I improvised together the flute and keyboard parts after first discussing what instruments might be appropriate and after praying and studying the illustrations and words of this opening chapter. I then went in and quickly overdubbed the acoustic guitar part, which, though not perfectly executed, caught the spirit of the moment.

The original improvisation lasted about 10 or 12 minutes which was a bit long,  so I then edited it down a bit for the album. Mary insisted on having a copy of the original full length version that she could play for inspiration whilst working. Let’s hope that inspires further creativity from her!

I love David’s beautiful, optimistic opening flute melody, which I later take up on the guitar. We thought it would be a nice idea to have this melody recur later on, on the album. I wanted the piece to finish with an unresolved feeling hanging in the air, like stepping out into the unknown. As a Christian this is my daily call, for without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11v6).

 

2. Follow Him - A Call to Follow

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeThis piece sprang from the frame drum loop, the consecutive 5th chord progression that comes in around 40 seconds in (originally on piano but replaced by Celtic harp) and David’s simple, but effective soprano sax melody, which to me has something of the attractive, compulsiveness of a tune that the Piped Piper of Hamelin may have played. There must have been something incredibly attractive about Jesus for the disciples to just leave all they had to follow Him.

After we had this initial melodic and rhythmic idea, the challenge was to arrange it in such a way that it would grow and develop without losing that childlike simplicity.

 

3. Light Eternal - A Call to Believe

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeMary’s multilayered illustration is just astounding and it’s possible see so many things in it. I felt that this piece needed to reflect the simplicity of belief, the gentle sensitivity of the Holy Spirit dove but also the awe inspiring power of a God who can call into being a universe of unimaginable vastness and complexity. The thought that God’s glory can reside in us is truly humbling.

We began this piece by improvising using David’s tin whistle (a great sound to suggest the purity of the Spirit) and the same keyboard pad sound I used on the opening track. I then worked on creating the big layers of guitars for the huge middle section. There are several references once again to place - the use of the Northumbrian pipes sound in the middle section and the playful interaction of the tin whistle and the birds (recorded on Lindisfarne by Mark).

I love the sound of the sustained electric guitar in unison with the tin whistle on the last part of this piece (a sound combination which characterises several of the pieces on the album). It brings such an uplifting feeling of hope and joy to conclude the piece.

 

4. Your Breath - A Call to Travel

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeThis piece is little changed from the original improvisation we did using soprano sax and the breathy keyboard sound. The slow tempo of the chord changes is suggestive of both breathing and gentle wind. The long sustained synth notes (suggestive of the sun reflecting on the rippling waves) and the bass were overdubbed later.

 

5. Magnificat - A Call to Humility

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeThe first thing that struck me about Mary’s illustration was the long interweaving strands rising from the praying figure ‘like incense smoke....prayers coming from all parts of the body’. I wanted to reflect this musically and came up with the repeating, echoed, ascending piano figure. David then broke out his Indian flutes and came up with the little, hypnotic, repeated melodic figure.

The Indian flutes inspired me to find an energetic tabla loop, as we felt that the words ‘My spirit rejoices in God’ were key to this piece. In the final mix the tabla loop is less featured than it originally was, but other rhythmic elements are introduced, such as David’s rhythmic bass Indian flute figures. It is significant that Jesus was able to endure the agony of the cross because of ‘the joy set before him’ (Hebrews 12v2). There must be an incredible amount of joy in Heaven!

The two part Reel after the brief floating middle section seemed like a great way to express this joyful release.

The end floating section again features the piano, but this time playing descending figures. As we pray and enter into God’s amazing presence, there comes a point when the dialogue is not just going upwards, but is also coming back to us, as the Father speaks to our spirit and brings His peace and revelation.

 

6. As the Touch - A Call to Vulnerability

Dave B. writes

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeI think the tenor sax and main pad keyboard on this were the first take we did together - a truly inspired few minutes. I know the tempestuous waves and wind in the opening don’t sound at all like the ‘gentle wave on a windswept shore’ or the ‘summer breeze’ that Mary mentions in her illustration!

However we wanted to get across the idea that putting oneself in a place of vulnerability can  actually be pretty scary - like being out on the lake in the storm. All our bases of security, whether they be familiar things around us, the need to be in control, the need to look respectable, the need to avoid placing ourselves in dangerous situations, disappear as we make ourselves vulnerable, relying totally on our God to lead us. Do we trust him enough to step out of the boat, like Peter, and walk on the water, our eyes fixed totally on Him? Ironically it is only in this place of vulnerability that we will find the peace and fulfillment that our spirit yearns for.

 

7. Show Me - A Call to Obey

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeWhen we approach God with the attitude of a child it is not hard to hear His voice and to be obedient to it. Not, as Mary says, because we have to, but because it is what we want to do. It has been said that ‘religion requires, but grace enables’. It is our great honour and pleasure to serve the King, not as slaves, but as sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6 v 18) and heirs to His Kingdom (Romans 8 v 16&17).

I wanted this childlike quality to be reflected in the simplicity of the piano part. The fading in and out synth sound is the light from the lighthouse - God’s light illuminating our path. Sometimes we see it clearly, sometimes we have to step out in faith into the darkness until we receive our next instruction. The tin whistle melody at the end (the flute theme from ‘The Unknown Destination’) is His familiar voice - calling us to Him from far away across the waves, calling us to trust Him that we shall be safe as we traverse the rough seas.

 

8. A.C.T.S - A Call to Pray

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeThis is another track on which the soprano sax and keyboard parts remain more or less unchanged from the original improvisation we did. We recorded three takes and this was the best. I think this track could have taken one of a number of different approaches. What came out feels to me like a feeling of affirmation and confirmation that God loves us and in that confidence we can face whatever fears or difficulties come our way.

I later overdubbed two high strung acoustic guitar parts to introduce another texture later in the piece.

 

9. Star - A Call to Trust

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeWhen I looked at Mary’s illustration with what looks like a hand flinging a star into space I was reminded of a piece from Iona’s ‘Book of Kells’ album called ‘Trinity Godhead’ which we’d recorded back in 1992, in which we’d tried to portray a similar scene. So I dug out my old Korg M1R synth module which is what I’d used for some of the really evocative, floating sounds on that track. This track deliberately starts in a similar way and seeks to portray some of the mystery of a God who can create stars and yet who chooses to encircle us with His love, protection and presence if we choose to ask Him to.

The repeated 4 note melody continually encircles the listener throughout the piece. (NB If we do a surround sound mix of this piece I’d have this melody slowly moving around the speakers in a circle!).

The fast ascending cathedral organ scales that build into the majestic middle section were inspired by a recording that David had of some music by an amazing composer called Duruffle.

I hope the end section after all the majesty also reflects Mary’s observation about the illustration, that ‘The hand seems to reach out in a loving, gentle gesture to caress the face of the creator, symbolised by the star.’ I could have had this end section just repeating and repeating, growing larger and more enveloping for ever as we gradually become engulfed by His awesome and overpowering Presence! Maybe on the ‘Eternal, Heaven remix version’!

 

10. Tree - A Call to Reconciliation

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeAnother track that started with David improvising on the flute and me joining in with a string orchestra sound. We had about 15 or 20 minutes of improvisations - loads of great stuff. I looked for all the bits that I thought would give me themes that I could develop into a mini flute concerto, working the orchestral textures around the flute. This track just seemed to grow and grow!

Again there is so much in the artwork! It is so easy to see the flaws in others. But when we look with the eyes of Jesus, the eyes of love, we find what is good in others, we see their potential, we see what could be.

This piece is a yearning to see reconcilliation and as it progresses it gradually moves towards a joyful dance of unification. As Jesus stands with his hands towards us in Mary’s picture, it is as though He is beckoning us to come towards Him, for our greatest need is first to be reconcilled with Him, to be restored to our true destiny.

 

11. Graceful Trinity - A Call to Wholeness

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeOnce again we return to Lindisfarne - the sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore, the seabirds and the sea breeze. I love the way the whistle sits in perfectly with the environmental sounds as though it is sound kind of timeless living creature itself, being played by the wind and waves.

The Trinity of God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit is the perfect example to us of selfless, giving love and unity. The way this is expressed in John chapter 17 makes it one of my favourite Bible passages. Just as the text on Mary’s picture hovers over the waves and wind, so David’s improvised, yet perfectly constructed melody on this piece soars, firstly over the waves, then majestically in perfect unity with the electric guitar over the string orchestra. All the while everything is held together by the gentle, cyclic high strung guitar figure which reflects the many swirls that Mary has so painstakingly painted within the waves.

At the end we are left with the wind of the Spirit, blowing where it will.

 

12. Heart - A Call to Confidence

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeWhen we recorded the first half of this piece, David and I really wanted to express the first half of the verse on page 155 (‘A pain deeply buried / deep cries out to deep / He knows the emptiness / cracked, torn and buried etc’). Hence the stark nature of the opening section.

In order to counter this I felt that the second half of the piece had to be not just comforting, but totally transcendent, as Holy Spirit comes to fill the emptiness, but not only that, but to totally surprise and overwhelm us with His electric Presence (as the dove so dominates the picture). I wanted the chord progression and the guitar to soar ever higher, just as the rainbow does in the picture - up to infinity. As Bill Johnson has said - ‘if God comes into the room and you're still alive then he must like you’! I see the ultimate aim of this book and music as being to bring people into God's wonderful Presence. In that place you cannot help but be changed.

The ever evolving and unpredictable chord progression also expresses to me vulnerability - we are not on familiar ground, we open ourselves up to whatever God has in store for us - we have to get outside of our comfort zones and rely totally on him. And yet, to me at least, there is something very inspirational about the second half of this piece. I wasn't so much thinking about the 'do not let your heart be troubled' line as the 'Do not be afraid' line. We enter uncharted territory and yet we can do so with confidence because the God who made the whole universe and holds the whole world in his hand is with us. I think that the piece has to have this transcendent theme.

The other phrase that really struck me is on page 116 - 'The dove is like freedom'. It's ironic that the most peaceful people I know are the ones who've given God everything and have taken the biggest risks. That's true freedom. I love the fact that in Mary’s amazing picture, the Holy Spirit (dove) is bursting out of the frame that threatens to trap Him. That's how I felt the music had to be.

 

13. Life Journey - A Call to Togetherness

Dave B. writes:

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Picture of Dave BainbridgeAs I think about the opening violins weaving in and out I am drawn to Mary’s words on page 125 - ‘hold the moment’. Too often we rush from the Spirit’s Presence, whether in corporate worship or in our private devotions, and miss the best of what God has for us. We come to him with our list of requests but fail to hear what He would have us pray about or what revelations He has for us. That is perhaps why there is a tinge of sadness towards the beginning of this piece. He longs to commune with us, to walk with us, for us to share in all that He has, and more importantly all that He is. For our destination is not a place - but a person. The famous passage in Revelation that Mary quotes on page 128 ‘I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.’ is aimed at the church..

But then we are back on familiar ground, with the flute theme first heard on the opening track. Our journey is not in vain. Once again the St Mary’s church bell call us to action, this time louder and more insistent and first the Northumbrian pipes, joined presently by unison sax and electric guitar remind us that if we keep our eyes fixed on God each day of our journey, our lives will be an adventure far greater and more colourful than we could possibly imagine.

We end as gentle waves and birds (recorded by Mark on Lindisfarne) wash over us like waves of His Spirit, cleansing us and renewing us.