The starting point for this one was Blackfriars and one of it’s historic purposes.
Within the Dominican Friary there is a scriptorium room where the Dominicans would spend their time illuminating religious manuscripts. I wanted to convey a picture of this in song somehow. I talked with Eloise and she got excited asking me if I knew the story of Pangur Ban. It was a favourite story of hers as a child. A 9th century Irish monk engaged as transcribing a text took a break and wrote a poem about his white cat in the margins of the parchment he was working on. The parchment survived and the poem about his cat has been translated many times and been the inspiration for the character of Pangur Ban in modern fiction.
I had invited my friend Emma to sing on this session. She is also quite a handy songwriter so I briefly told her the story of Pangur Ban and provided her with the translation by Robin Flower and a musical sketch I had recorded using the piano.
Emma set about using the poem and my music to create lyrics that scan based on the translated poem. She got as far as the first two verses and sent her efforts back and I was very pleased. I sent this to Shane and he finished things off writing the words and melody for the middle section of our song. I was able to structure both sets of lyrics and put together a team of musicians that included Lee playing bass on his analog synthesiser, myself on piano, Alice on cello, Tomas on guitar with Emma singing lead vocal and Tim singing backing vocal. I kept Shane’s backing vocals from the demo and my original piano part on the final recording.