You’ll know by now that my appreciation for Dennis Huddleston’s 36 project is second to none. He’s one of those artists that you attach yourself to – with this ability to completely engross people in powerful, emotional and enigmatic music. Dennis has also been a big inspiration for me on the vinyl front too, releasing beautiful pieces since his very first album ‘Hypersona’, i’ve managed to purchase every single one, and his approach exemplifies today’s resurgence of quality, independent artists.
Dennis’ productions have featured in plenty of mixes here on ASIP before (mine included) and his latest album ‘Shadow Play’ marks a big chapter in his discography and a close tie with his Places Series release. Needless to say, this is a rather special moment for ASIP and one I hope you can all enjoy with me over the beautiful 39 minutes which follow.
There’s always private pleasure in seeing beauty where others don’t. Sometimes it’s just a case of the personal outweighing the spectacular but in a part of the world as vast and stunning as Yorkshire, the abundance of scenery makes finding that place an infinitely easier coincidence. Ilkley or ‘Heather Spa’ is one such place for 36 aka Dennis Huddleston. A moorland area on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it’s served as both a place of escape and inspiration for him.
“It’s a place I’ve visited many times at various stages of my life,” he begins, “coming from Bradford, which has had its fair share of social and economic problems over the years, Ilkley provided an escape from the city and is somewhere me and my friends spent many days and nights. It isn’t the largest, nor the most beautiful countryside in England, but it has an undeniable charm that’s felt by everyone who’s visited.”
You feel that connection throughout ‘Heather Spa’. It’s one of familiarity and rejuvenation with the exhale of the strings evoking a happiness and gazing contentment. ‘Heather Spa (Burning)’ is just as poised and gentle with its slow, weaving melodies and whilst it’s more clouded and subdued, it leaves a determinedly resonant impression.
“There was a huge fire in 2006 which destroyed vast areas of the moorland,” Dennis explains. “I had visited it only a few days prior and the lush green land was replaced by charred cinders, completely decimating the landscape. It was quite a sight to behold and there was an undeniable melancholy in the air. Reseeding efforts and the tough will of nature has reversed most of the damage and Ilkley Moor is alive once again.”
The initial inspiration for the ‘Shadow Play’ album, this final instalment of ‘Heather Spa’ marks the culmination of Dennis’ personal trilogy, and helps the ‘Heather Spa EP’ feel like a very natural conclusion to a journey of transition, progression and redemption.
“It’s come full-circle in a way,” Dennis muses, “Heather Spa as a concept was the catalyst for my latest album ‘Shadow Play’ and you can see three distinct yet fully-connected chapters on what is a single story; the inception with Heather Spa, the realisation with Shadow Play, and finally with this EP for the ASIP Places Series, an epilogue. I think they’re some of the most emotional pieces of music I’ve worked on and I hope you enjoy taking this final journey with me, right back at the place where it started.”
(Place introduction by Reef Younis)