The Making of Pursuit of Illusion

"The last six months have most definitely been the most intense and pressurised of my life"

"Not only did I have musical passages playing themselves, round and round in my head into the small hours, but at daytime, I forced myself out of necessity, into another form of torture - learning about technology. Unbelievably, I didn't end up setting fire to my own head and at last the music has arrived into the world. It was a Caesarian birth though.

Recording the strings

As I have said, I have had the wonder of working again with most of the 'cast' of 'The Unseen Stream'. And this time, I think they have surpassed themselves. Plus, some other extraordinarily splendid friends appeared - Peter Knight (of 'Steeleye Span' and just the most astonishing improvisational violinist) and Nick Beggs with some beautifully understated 'Chapman Stick' playing.

The major challenge on this album though, was the recording of the Choir 'The York Cantores Choir'. This I 'engineered' (I use the word loosely) with the help of my friend with the motherboard brain, Trevor Leroyd. (He also helped out with the recording of the Organ). This involved me sweating like a horse in mortal fear. I was in a separate room (at the National Centre for Early Music) trying to physically learn how to record them, my self confidence trying to climb out of the window, while simultaneously trying to pretend everything was solidly under control to the wonderfully patient conductor, Marion. My friend Russ described it as being like the scene in 'The Wizard of Oz' where the curtain gets pulled back and the Mighty Oz is revealed as a little bloke frantically pulling levers and wheels. Anyway, everything came out, via blissful performance, to a happy end.

From left to right: Chadwick Dahlquist III (resident engineer at Trillium Lane Studios), Troy, Ed Brooks (Master Engineer)

The final major task was the 'mixing' of the music, and this is where my dear friend Steve Gorsline came in. Through Steve I was able to fly out to Seattle to mix the album in an impossibly brilliant state-of-the-art studio called Trillium Lane (massive thanks and credit here to the splendid Jared Vogt) and have the deep pleasure of working with as brilliant a mixing engineer as you could find in the world, Ed Brooks (top salute also to Chad the assistant). It was wonderful.

Troy - hard at work in studio!

So, when I got back to the UK the last piece was to be fitted, and that was a trip to the Isle of Skye where my splendid mate Denis Blackham has his mastering studio (mastering is the last stage in an album's birth; a kind of cutting of the umbilical and cleaning up. Did I really need to say that?). Denis did a stunning job and we got splendidly drunk.

Troy with Chad

So here we are.....There are some photos of various aspects of the making of the album, so have a look at those here.

But.. wait til you hear - The Emperor String Quartet conjuring textures so evocative, cantores in absolute transcendence, Jo delivering the most sublime vocals ever, Neil expressing the wordless through a Grand Piano, Chris making the Oboe sing to the world, Duncan at the controls of the wild Organ and Terl and Andy terrifying the old Norse gods with their primal drumming."


All photos copyright Troy Donockley

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