Caught by the River

Rivertones 3

Melissa Harrison | 16th March 2015

The next release on our Rivertones audio imprint is a companion to At Hawthorn Time, Melissa Harrison’s second novel, published by Bloomsbury, April 23 2015.

The two track, 10″ vinyl record with an individually silkscreened and stitched sleeve, is a limited edition of 200 and is released on the same day as the book.

Here’s some background from Mel:

Making things with friends: few things in life, surely, are as rewarding as that. To know proper musicians and artists, and be lucky enough to find common ground with them in your differing endeavours, is a precious thing; if they are generous enough to make room in their imaginations for the products of yours, magic can happen. That might sound effusive, but it’s how I feel about this record.

Its two tracks bring something unique to my second novel, At Hawthorn Time; something hard to categorise. The first, ‘The Boundway’, describes Jack, a poet, protester, landworker and seer, walking north up Watling Street, and in its folk-meets-Steve Reich structures you can hear the lifelong, loping rhythm of his steps. The second, ‘Babb Hill’, is much darker; it concerns a moment towards the end of the book when newly retired Howard, ex-roadie and vintage radio collector, sits on top of a hill at 4am and tries to decide what to do with the rest of his life. The tension in the track sent me back to the manuscript, and I rewrote the scene to reflect what it had captured. Collaboration is a two-way thing.

The record’s sleeve still takes my breath away. Artist and printmaker Lucie Murtagh, who also created the botanical illustrations that feature at the start of each chapter, responded to At Hawthorn Time’s theme of landscape, territory and belonging. To make the starting point for her artwork she took a hawthorn tree, painstakingly rinsed the soil from it and scanned the complex network of roots it had put down into the soil; the insides of the sleeve are the living, vivid green of new leaves. Watching this image come together gave me the entirely vicarious thrill that results from seeing something properly astonishing being born.

Perhaps the most brilliant thing of all is the way Jeff picked the whole thing up and ran with it. None of us really intended it to happen, or had any idea how it could; it was a fancy, a daydream born of idle chats, exploratory email exchanges and boozy lunchtimes. But that’s what Jeff does, isn’t it? He makes things happen.

So here it is: Rivertones 003. I hope you love it as much as I do. Thank you to all my brilliant collaborators – and see you at the bar!

Pre-order a copy now.
The launch of At Hawthorn Time takes place at Rough Trade East on Thursday 23 April.