Horse Sweat Chandelier

by MacGillivray

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The Wire 362, April 2014 Sukhdev Sandhu, "MacGillivray is a poet and performer who sang on Jem Finer and Andrew Kotting's 2013 album 'Swandown'. Her third album, 'Horse Sweat Chandelier', which she calls 'a soundscape for Scotland in 2014', derives its title from George Stubbs's beautifully violent 18th century paintings of a lion eating a horse (or is the horse allowing itself to be eaten by a lion?) that have long been seen as allegories of state power, and have special potency today when Scotland is readying itself for a referendum on independence. The country is braced for a torrent-storm of competing narratives and myths, visions and incantations - all of them seeking to fix or free the nation's identity.

This fine, mysterious record - shifting between chamber music, Gaelic mountain songs and dramatic chansons - isn't a protest album. Its references to history are oblique, fabulistic: "O Bonnie Charlie where have you gone?/ Christ has lit a neon thumb/ Hollywood is trying hard to get a hero spitting blood". Throughout, the mood is one of fraught and blessed possession - the past is channelled rather than re-enacted. Norrie's vocals - at times reminiscent of Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard, or even Nico (the record was produced by Nico's former collaborator and biographer James Young) - are at once forceful and fugitive.

"Let Winter Round Me Rave", fattened by electronic beats, has the muscularity of Jenny Hval's "Innocence is Kinky" and PJ Harvey's "Let England Shake". Mostly the songs are unstable: ghostly requiems and martial prophecies, lonesome lullabies and fierce spells. Their lyrics are marinated in topographies and mythologies whose precise meanings are unclear. They hover, perhaps like Scotland itself, on the threshold between isolationism and epic adventure." -


released May 1, 2013

MacGillivray. Co-produced: MacGillivray/Young.


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MacGillivray Scotland, UK

MacGillivray is a Scottish poet and musician, signed to Antigen Records and 100 Acre Recordings and published by Bloodaxe, 'The Nine of Diamonds: Surroial Mordantless' 2016 and 'The Last Wolf of Scotland' (2nd edition) Redhen, Los Angeles. MacGillivray has performed with The Fall, Arlo Guthrie, Thurston Moore, Alan Moore, Shirley Collins and many others. ... more

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Track Name: Suffer
Suffer, if ye are able. Hide beneath the table. Socks on your wedding day, coloured odd, old and fray.
Track Name: Bonnie Charlie
O Bonnie Charlie, where have you gone? Christ has lit a neon thumb, Hollywood is trying hard to get a hero spitting blood. You broke along bitter skies, dust was kept from your disguise. You hid your face in an old tattoo and I knew that soon mine would be there too. You watch the white moon rising high, burn to see the summer die, but you're a young mind, without the eye and my heart it quivers as you ride by. O Bonnie Charlie the lights are blown, all your men are lying down. Hollywood's still trying hard but there is no hero, spitting blood.
Track Name: Chi Mi Na Morbheanna
O, chì, chì mi na mòrbheanna;
O, chì, chì mi na còrrbheanna;
O, chì, chì mi na coireachan,
Chì mi na sgoran fo cheò.

O, I see, I see the vast mountains;
O, I see, I see the vast mountains;
O, I see, I do see the corries,
I see the mist-covered peaks.
Track Name: Blue Black Flame
When the body is a blue black flame, saints' compression on their tongues
Track Name: Phosphorous and Gentians
Followed her down, turning I face her, turning erase her. In burning dark, in love, in gloom, turning knew I'd tried too soon. And she cries what is your intention? I turn like shadow meeting dawn but she is gone, among phosphorous and gentians.
Track Name: Let Winter Round Me Rave
Let winter round me rave, let me stave the heart of me upon the tree. I have seen a dove, it is hidden in my glove, I think it fell from above. Rave my heart in winter, stave my heart in winter, the knave has knelt upon my grave, the ground is set, the cold enclave - pulls me through my heart again, raves against my heart again, cannot save my heart again, while winter round me raves!
Track Name: I Have Seen Them
I have seen them, they are praying in the heather, they are dying in the heather and they have no tongues.
Track Name: Wind Moan
Wind moan, house is coming down.
Track Name: Rest Upon Me
Rest upon me, I have taken to you and I know no shame. There is land up here for sale. Bring to me a cold, cold rose, grow it for me and I will put it in the ground. There is land up here for sale. You cold, cold lamb, did they cut your throat? Did they throw your land away? There is land up here for sale. I will go to the deep sea below.
Track Name: Sorrow
What sorrow's coming down my way? Meet me there, by the gate. Only lonely.
Track Name: My Heart is in the Highlands
My heart is in the highlands, my heart is not here. My heart is in the highlands, chasing the deer. Chasing the deer and following the roe. My heart is not here.

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