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Highland musical duo Charlie Grey and Joseph Peach embrace improvisation and spontaneity for fifth new album - A Breaking Sky

By Philip Murray

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The cover of the pair's new album, which features Split Rock in Clachtoll, Sutherland.
The cover of the pair's new album, which features Split Rock in Clachtoll, Sutherland.

Acclaimed Highland musicians from Fort Augustus and Achiltibuie are set to break new ground with the release of their latest collaborative album.

Charlie Grey and Joseph Peach will release A Breaking Sky on Friday, April 26.

It’s the duo’s fifth album together, but what sets their latest effort apart is that the work was entirely improvised live by the acclaimed pair at Ardkinglas House on the shores of Loch Fyne in Argyll.

Proponents of the pair, who are now based in Glasgow, say the decision to do this have given the music “a real essence of spontaneity and originality”.

The pair describe the album, which feature’s Split Rock in Clachtoll in Sutherland on the cover, as combining the “rich traditions of folk with elements of instrumental and contemporary classical music” and that the move to forego pre-arranged compositions in favour of free improvisation resulted in an “unparalleled level of originality, authenticity and raw emotion”.

Charlie Grey said: "With this record, we aimed to capture the raw emotion and freedom we experience while playing together, uninhibited by audiences or other constraints.

“Our journey as a duo has been about translating that ineffable feeling into recordings and live performances. Working with Mattie and recording at Ardkinglas allowed us to achieve that vision, evoking the true essence of our musical connection."

The first single from the album, A' Mirean San Adhar, Gaelic for Dancing in the Air, is set for release on Friday (April 12).

Sorley’s Slide is the second single from the record, which will be released on Friday (April 19) with an accompanying video.

Joseph Peach said: "At the heart of our music lies the interplay between tension and release, much like the movement of clouds in the sky. We wanted to evoke that sense of fluidity and unpredictability in our compositions, allowing the music to unfold organically. We are incredibly proud of this album and feel it is an accurate representation of our musical relationship and style. We hope that resonates with listeners.”

The album, as well as a video for the track ‘S Maise an Dòchas, will be available to stream and download from Friday, April 26. An additional live video for the track Aignish will be released on Friday, May 3.

The pair’s journey began in 2016, with their debut release Waves Rise From Quiet Water, which was shortlisted for FATEA Magazine’s Instrumental Album of the Year. The following year, the duo reached the final of BBC Radio 2’s Young Folk Award. Together, Charlie and Joseph were described as displaying “enthralling prowess and attunement” in a review in The Scotsman.

A Breaking Sky was recorded at Ardkinglas House in Argyll and was mixed at Eastbourne’s Echo Zoo studios by Mattie Foulds on a Trident TSM desk.

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