Music, words and buildings – they all describe human experience in different ways. They’re also all important elements of Walking Heads projects so we are delighted to feature Contraflow, a powerfully evocative new work by writer Clare Archibald, on our blog later this week. But first a heads up: Brigid Mae Power, an inspirational element in the story, will be playing live at The Glad Cafe in Glasgow on 13 August.
Clare’s piece is set in the echoing space of a multi-storey car park, in the ‘silence that is not quiet’, an amplified enclosure where ‘echoes of others live’. This is the kind of reverberating space which also fascinates the Irish musician Brigid Mae Power. Indeed her track, The Grey in the Air, was recorded in an abandoned car park in Galway.
‘She kindly me allowed use of her track,’ says Clare, ‘I asked her questions about the recording process and then interpreted her answers in my own words. Her thoughts were very similar to mine, there was a natural weaving together.’
The air carries you in waves and tosses you to the top, open, floor of the nearest car park to your home of now. As the high street dies it is becoming corporately redundant, the shops below subterranean ship wrecks of the concrete tides above them. You stand at the mast and look out at the sea, a flotilla of siren memories floating towards you.
As if her voice were surging up the Firth of Forth from Grangemouth to Kirkcaldy, you remember sitting in the car park of your home town, another place, secretly smoking and reading a music paper interview. You think it was in the soon to be defunct The Cut but you know it was with Liz Fraser. She talks in your head, fossilised by extended parenthesis, of singing the shadows. Shadows flicker a memory of a staircase in a Cocteau film.
You hold onto the twin bannisters that join the shadows and swing along to the music of silhouette. Washed up with serendipity you hear echoes of the shapes seep out in the landscape of other car parks, other women who sing from all that is contained within. The spectrum of these voices shades the air with lineage as it falls all around coating you with grey dust that you feel as glitter of ether. Clare Archibald: Contraflow
Read Contraflow in full on Walking Heads blog on Friday 12 August.
Brigid Mae Power is playing at the Glad Cafe as part of the three day celebration Glorious Traces – The Glad Weekend.
Clare Archibald is a Scottish writer who is interested in the interplay of forms and the potential of both collaboration and narrative non-fiction. She has recently been longlisted for the international Lifted Brow/& RMIT Non/Fictionlab Experimental Non-Fiction Prize.