John Roach

Songs of the Highlands
CDR release packaged with a 1/8" lead sheet
hand-punched with letters and edition number

All of the sounds heard on Songs of the Highlands were generated with an instrument called The ScotchBox, one of my many sound sculptures / instruments. The ScotchBox consists of a tin box strung with rubber bands and amplified via two piezo pickups. The bands are bowed with plastic and metal rods and plucked and caressed with motors to create an expansive array of tones and timbres

Songs of the Highlands aspires (as with all of my work in installation, sculpture, video and audio) to transform ordinary objects into new, unexpected and active entities. Even the enigmatic titles of the pieces on this CD are culled from the copy printed on the tin box which originally housed a bottle of Glenlivet scotch. When paired with the sounds heard here, titles such as "Converted to an airfield", "Introduction of steel shafts" and "Lone Ailsa Craig" take on a new life worlds away from their original commercial context.

  • photos
  • audio
  • press



"I’ve gotten to know john a little bit through our chats on the interweb, where he’s proven himself a bottomless pit of knowledge re: the various musical uber-undergrounds. this is the first edition of his own music that’s been available, a fact that now, listening to the disc, has me wondering why its taken so long!

the edition itself (which, incidentally, comes as a printed cdr inside a two-tone metallic printed sleeve which is housed alongside a one pound lead block embossed with the words “highlands for kb” and a roman numeral denoting which copy you have!) is very nice, but for me it’s all about the music, amazing in and of itself, regardless of the edition... it’s hard to describe what this sounds like without resorting to euphemism... so i’ll give it a shot. personally i hear the din of thousands of resounding geese in transit overhead, the roaring of ghost winds, the aged creaking of an old shipyard... the music certainly inhabits the same space as all of that early electronic bidnazz i’m always going on about here; not an easy thing to do given contemporary music-production equipment, a point that makes the mysterious qualities of the sound(s) so much more powerful.

reference points (and you know how much i hate to use these but they’re apt) are the wind-tunnel dynmic of david jackman’s organum project, the wasted string scrabblings of tony conrad, the electric buzz of mev, the long-strings of ellen fullman and paul panhuysen; all things i hold dear. this is a grand statement, fully formed, and should be investigated post haste..."

--- Keith Fullerton Whitman