Cup and Ring, the latest recording from Porch Song Anthology, Telstar Ponies and Macrocosmica guitarist Gavin Laird. The follow up to 2017’s debut solo album Instance, Laird created Cup and Ring from a single cyclical chord progression with contributions from, among others, Richard Youngs, Amy Cutler, Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells, Alex Rex), Neil Campbell (Vibracathedral Orchestra, Astral Social Club) and his PSA and Telstar Ponies bandmate Rachel Devine.
The record’s title refers to a style of Neolithic spiral rock carvings that can be traced across Europe over millennia. Laird provided each of his collaborators with a recording of the loop guitar progression and gave them the instruction to start and end with the loop but do whatever they wanted in the middle.
“The chord progression was something I came up with for a Porch Song Anthology song but we never used. Still, it went round and round a lot in my head and I knew I wanted to do something with it. I started thinking along the lines of the never ceasing loop in Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet but also the randomness of Thurston Moore’s Root album,” says Laird. “I wanted it to be collaborative but also something that allowed each musician to do something unique to them.”
Laird created one interpretation of the loop himself and created two directly with collaborators. Devine provides vocals on the lead section and the final track features Devine alongside layered vocals arranged by Laird for the singing group Glasgow Voicemale. A mixture of approaches from other collaborators keeps the loop going throughout: while some contributions follow the tempo and melody; others veer off in wild directions. The cyclical nature of the hook reminded Laird of the story of the Cup and Ring carvings.
“The rock carvings are amongst the oldest examples of stone art in the UK. This is a piece of music that is entirely cyclical in nature, it’s the same at the beginning and the end. I started linking that to the spirals in the cup and ring markings and the idea of culture, art and music evolving out in a spiral or loop from early origins.” says Laird.
“I like how they are so tangibly human and yet distant. We love making up stories of how and why they did them. We almost can’t help ourselves from inferring some deep ritualistic or religious significance but in truth it’s a blank page that we project our own ideas onto, good or bad. Everything we do must come from a root and is of a cyclical nature, repeats on itself and comes from something that precedes it, and that fitted with the idea of sharing what is one of the most used and basic chord progressions in rock music and just letting it go, albeit in 3/4.”
released November 1, 2019
Cup and Ring Sleevenotes
Cup and Ring #1 (feat. Rachel Devine)
Cup and Ring #2 (feat. Neil Campbell)
Cup and Ring #3 (feat. Kobra Audio Lab)
Cup and Ring #4 Rumple (feat. Amy Cutler, Alex Neilson, Aidan O’Rourke, Alasdair Roberts)
Cup and Ring #5 (feat. Make Flames)
Cup and Ring #6 (feat. Richard Youngs)
Cup and Ring #7 Theme
Cup and Ring #8 Choral (feat. Rachel Devine, Glasgow Voicemale)
All tracks. Acoustic guitar loop: Gavin Laird
Track 1. Voice: Rachel Devine, Instruments and recording: Gavin Laird. Recorded by Gavin Laird
Track 2. Voice, instruments and recording: Neil Campbell.
Track 3. Instruments and recording: Mark Scanlan.
Track 4. Voice: Amy Cutler, Guitar: Alasdair Roberts, Drums: Alex Neilson, Violin: Aidan O’Rourke. Recorded by Luigi Pasquini
Track 5. Instruments and recording: Joel Derby.
Track 6. Instruments and recording: Richard Youngs.
Track 7: Instruments and recording: Gavin Laird.
Track 8: Solo voice: Rachel Devine. Choir vocals: Glasgow Voicemale led by Harry Campbell and recorded by Gordon Kennedy. Glasgow Voicemale are often Richard Goslan, Martin Graham, Michael King, Gavin Laird, Tom Malone, Chris McCaig, Frank McGachy, Ralph Moffat, Stephen Wilson and others. glasgow-voicemale.weebly.com
. Other instruments: Gavin Laird.
Sequencing, additional recording and mixing done with Luigi Pasquini.
Mastered by Gregg Janman at Hermetech Mastering hermetechmastering.com
Sleeve by Seonaid Mackay