- A bold love letter to the great outdoors.
- It's no secret that Neil McDonald, AKA Lord Of The Isles, loves being in nature. Twice in a recent interview, conducted during the ongoing pandemic, he repeated the phrase "wide open space" with more than a hint of longing. Whities 029 is partly a collaboration with the Edinburgh poet Ellen Renton, whose words powerfully combine natural imagery with grave messages about the other existential crisis we're currently facing: climate change.
Renton only appears on half the EP. The opening track, "One Lifetime Is Not Enough For Us," is cinematic and beatless. It is proof, if you still needed it, that McDonald could easily forge a new career crafting movie soundtracks. "Waiting In Arisaig" is softer and better, leading with a lovely dancing melody before silky breakbeats unfurl and crash at a snail's pace.
McDonald's sound, like Renton's poetry, strikes a heady balance between drama and beauty. The ambient accompaniment to "Passing," the 2015 poem that first inspired this collaboration, builds a gently brooding bed from dusky pads, the odd twinkle and the sound of waves lapping the shore. Renton's voice sinks into the soundtrack, her lines on mankind's gross vandalisation of the planet delivered with damning grace. "To you, I hand down a tortured horizon marked by mistakes," she whispers.
The EP's other collaboration, "Inheritance," is more adventurous, with the poem only spanning half the track. Renton's language, describing the wonder of sunrise, is enhanced by dawn noise: birds chirping, more waves. The second she utters her final word, fresh synths pierce the atmosphere and a shuffling rhythm emerges, faint at first but eventually fat and broken. Balmy tones evoke feelings of supreme tranquility. This is peak McDonald. Close your eyes and picture those wide open spaces.
A1 One Lifetime Is Not Enough For Us
A2 Waiting In Arisaig
B1 Passing feat. Ellen Renton
B2 Inheritance feat. Ellen Renton