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Daniel Patrick Quinn - The Winter Hills

Daniel Patrick Quinn - The Winter HillsDaniel Patrick Quinn is a 22-year-old singer/musician/producer from the North West of England on the periphery of the beautiful Lake District.  And this location is no doubt reflected in The Winter Hills, Daniel’s debut release on his Suilven Recordings label.

Unusual for a debut album, The Winter Hills is a double CD, though it would have been possible to fit the work onto a single CD.  There is a good reason for this as the work is split into two distinct sets, CD1 being vocal-led with CD2 as wholly instrumental.

The music and style is very innovative and original using synth, cello, trumpet, percussion and sometimes violin and bass.  Daniel avoided using guitar because he ‘wanted to produce something that would not sound too ‘of it’s time’.  In fact he has succeeded in retaining that organic natural quality for which he strove. 

Picture, if you will, a small smoky public house with logs or even coal on the open fire.  The sort of pub which caters for locals rather than passing trade, the few occupants of which with half full glasses of bitter or mild stare blankly into space, deep in thought whilst three or four musicians perform slow, pensive, Celtic folk music, relishing each note as one would relish every mouthful of ale.  This is the era of artist L.S. Lowry.

Daniel’s vocals have an endearing innocent quality, similar to those of Brian Cant, the legend and cult figure of all 40-something ‘children’ for whom the likes of Trumpton and Camberwick Green hold magical memories.  It’s a good, clean, honest voice, which combined with the music that is CD1, has that folksy feel of say the Shortwave Band or Blackstone Edge minus the reels and jigs and electronica.  The synth comes across as an old squeezebox or perhaps a treadle powered reed organ.

CD2, the instrumental set, opens with a piece called For Her Atoms making use of a four note sequence throughout with trumpet discord. 

Towards The Sun conjures up memories of being surrounded by thick mist on the fells of the Old Man Of Coniston and on Goat Fell (Isle of Arran) – separate occasions obviously.  You’re plodding along regardless of conditions, cold and wet and wondering when you will reach that point when the sun breaks through and opens up the stunning views.

Continuing the journey you come across The Stonecutter who rhythmically chips away in a daze.  Reality and dream state become confused when you continue along Red Roads (which incidentally uses the voice as an instrument).  You are no longer walking with any specific purpose but have slipped into an automated mode and continue moving forward. (Departing from my pictorial depiction for a moment, this track has a Steve Hillage feel about it.)  Your exertion and efforts lead you to A Coastal Journey where the winds become more disturbed and fight for audibility above your speeded up heartbeat.

This album requires a very open mind and wide musical taste to appreciate.  It is almost experimental and yet again it isn’t.  It verges on the archetypal Irish dirge in paces and yet it also has an English quality about it.  Not surprising then that Daniel names Robert Wyatt and Brian Eno among his influences.  The music could easily be used as a film soundtrack and I would be surprised if Daniel is not approached in the future for such a commission.  Meanwhile, for the lonely fell walker, The Winter Hills will be a familiar reminder of past expeditions.

Daniel is moving north to Edinburgh shortly to continue his various projects.  Check out his website (link below) for further details of his work and this album.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Daniel Patrick Quinn


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