Name: Stone Over Bones
» Download the full track [6.5mb, MP3]
Ashley McAvoy spent most of his teenage years fantasising about being in a famous rock band, leading directly to the “foolish, yet dedicated, mission impossible to land a million trillion dollar deal with a major label.“
Having spent a fortune recording nearly a hundred songs, they only managed to release one EP of four tracks, selling less than 200 copies. It earned, in Ash’s own words, “some of the worst reviews I have ever read”.
Embittered and humiliated, Ash decided being in a band for the sake of it was better than being in no band at all and formed Vito, a collection of individuals obsessed with delay pedals and post-rock eeriness, due to release their second album through The Flowershop Recordings label, run by indie-guru Robin Proper-Sheppard (God Machine/Sophia).
Inspired by Robin's own honest, emotional approach to songwriting, Quintamity has become an outlet for the music Ash feels is too personal to share with Vito, although this hasn't stopped him inviting members of the band to join in the celebration of his “misery”, for the purposes of recording and playing live.
Musically, Ash starts somewhere in the early 70's with the folksier end of Led Zeppelin and hopes to end up somewhere near Doves or Kings of Convenience.
Lyrically, he says he can't even pretend to have a strategy other than writing it down as it comes out, and hopes his nearest and dearest don't take it too personally. After all, they are “just words”.
On the track, ‘Stone Over Bones’:
“A few years ago I accompanied Dr Steve Burrow on a survey of Bryn Celli Ddu, Anglesey, around the time his book Tomb Builders was published. It allowed me the great privilege of hands-on learning about our ancestors from one of the UK’s experts.
During our discussions, I kept returning to the simple idea that these burial sites had been built by the living to express the love and respect they felt for the dead, so being a romantic at heart, this inspired me to write the song ‘Stone Over Bones’.
I was fascinated with the idea that, although we know very little about the transient lives of our ancestors, the emotion present in the effort they made to commemorate their dead will live forever – the equivalent today of a poem, eulogy or even a love song.”
The burial tombs of Stone Age Wales
5,500 years ago a common culture spread around the Atlantic coast of Europe linking Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, southern Scotland and Ireland.
Today, evidence of this culture survives in the form of passage tombs - circular burial mounds pierced by stone-lined passages that open into central chambers.
These tombs were built by early farming communities to house the cremated remains of their dead and were used for generations. They must have been important landmarks that linked the living with their ancestors.
Within Wales, passage tombs are best seen on Anglesey where two important examples are sufficiently well-preserved to allow public access - Barclodiad y Gawres and Bryn Celli Ddu.
Barclodiad y Gawres ('the apronful of the giantess') was built with a main chamber flanked by three side-chambers in which the dead would have been placed. In the centre of the main chamber was a hearth from which a fire would have illuminated the tomb during rituals.
To the surprise of the archaeologists excavating the site, the hearth contained a strange mix of reptile, fish and amphibian bones. While the reason for this 'witches brew' will never be known, one important insight into the culture of these tomb builders is the strange artwork that is pecked into the rocks that line the passage and chamber. These designs include spirals and strange meandering zig-zag patterns.
On their own they might be dismissed as a whim of the builders, but this type of design is also found within other passage tombs as far afield as Ireland and Brittany.
A similarly patterned stone was found at Bryn Celli Ddu (Anglesey). However, here the stone was discovered lying face down in a pit beneath the tomb's chamber where it must have been buried before tomb building began. Was it buried in order to sanctify the site, or was it buried to hide it away? Another unanswered mystery.