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The Riverbank Faerie

Brian Buller

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By Brian Buller 2010

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  1. 1 The Song of Wandering Aengus 06:12 Lyrics
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  2. 2 Morgaine by Brian Buller 07:41 Lyrics
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  3. 3 Bonnie Mae by Brian Buller 12:08 Lyrics
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  4. 4 English Sunlight by Brian Buller 06:10 Lyrics
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  5. 5 Bushes and Briars 09:43 Lyrics
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  6. 6 The Riverbank Faerie by Brian Buller 09:34 Lyrics
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  7. 7 The Dark-Eyed Sailor by Brian Buller 08:54 Lyrics
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  8. 8 Inland the Eventide Moves by Brian Buller 10:57 Lyrics
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My debut studio album released in 2010...

A collaborative effort created with producer
and instrumentalist Ryan Eston Paul,
this album is a curious convergence of
styles and genres- most notably Celtic, Folk,
and Electronica: Celtic-Inspired Folktronica 
with traditional and original songs conveying
distinctive vocal and beat-powered sound.  

"Sprinkled with Celtic, Folk, and Electronica influences, the record is
surprisingly diverse for such a debut... Buller should be proud
of the fact that this obviously meticulous project has
come off so well."
What's Up!

~ ~ ~

For those who are curious,  
    here's a look at the CD face... 

Cd surface 11.27.10

And here's the back cover with album credits...  
Back cover 11.27

Album Lyrics & Commentary

~ Lyrics & Commentary for The Riverbank Faerie ~

1. The Song of Wandering Aengus
Words by W.B. Yeats / Music- Traditional
Arranged by Brian Buller & Ryan Eston Paul

I went out to the Hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

I am enchanted with the singing of
Karan Casey, and it is through her 1997
Songlines that I first encountered
this curious composition.
With an enigmatic theme of dream-searching at its core,
concise interpretations of this song seem to be elusive-
as perhaps they should be.
Though I have researched, I haven’t a PhD in such matters,
so for now, we’ll just have to make do with the following:
Aengus Óg (Aengus the Young)
is an Irish figure, or god, associated with many things such as youth, beauty,
dreams, seeking, music, transformative fish, sometimes death, in some senses love,
and – along with his beloved Cáer – swans. In this song, we watch and
listen as he glimpses, is enthralled with, and then vows to pursue a
captivating creature perceived in a dream.
Of Aengus (or Angus, Áengus, Óengus, Oenghus, Aonghus...),
much can be explored. And within these lyrics by
W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) – rich in Irish lore – much can be discovered.

2. Morgaine 
Words & Music by Brian Buller
Arranged by Brian Buller & Ryan Eston Paul

From Wales I am here
To serve our Pendragon
To safeguard these lands
All we call Britannia
All we call Britannia

From Wales I am here
To face the Saxon war
And dare, dare I say
But glimpse you my Lady
But glimpse you my Lady

Morgaine… Morgaine…

Oh sister of a King
Oh Daughter of the Mists
Oh The Land is alive
Oh, with whispers of your strength

Thanks be to your brother
Oh, for our acquaintance
In honor of your arrival
He holds oh this banquet
He holds oh this banquet

Morgaine… Morgaine…

You invite me, to escort you
In the eve of sweet May
To my wonder, to my joy
We wander in the glow
Of those bonfires ablaze

Your sky of dark hair
Your breath of apples
The hazel light
In the glade of your eyes

Let not the Isle beyond the Summer Sea
Oh, be forsaken
Nor sink in the blood
By which this land is stained

Let not the ways of the Goddess
Oh, be forgotten
Nor, nor the spell
Oh, to us she gave
Oh, to us she gave

Morgaine… Morgaine…

Based on an Arthurian theme
and strongly influenced by
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s &
Diana L. Paxon’s

The Mists of Avalon,
these lyrics are given from
the perspective of Accolon of Wales
as he addresses Morgan Le Fay-
or Morgaine. Our poor prince Accolon
is tormented and conflicted between
his call to duty for to serve his
King Arthur, and his desire to serve
and be near Morgaine; as both a lover
and as a spiritual adherent to the
pre-Christian traditions which she
struggles to uphold amid a turbulent
Medieval Britannia.

3. Bonnie Mae
Words & Music- Traditional
Arranged by Brian Buller & Ryan Eston Paul

Bonnie Mae a-shepherding has gone
To call the sheep to the fold
And aye, as she sang, Oh her bonny voice, it rang
Way over the tops of the downs, the downs
Way over the tops of the downs

There came a troop of gentlemen
As they were riding, riding by
And one of them has lighted down
And he’s asked of her the way, the way
And he’s asked of her the way

“Ride on, ride on, you rank riders
Your steeds are stout, Oh and strong
For ‘tis out of the fold I will not go
For fear you will do me wrong, me wrong
For fear you will do me wrong”

Now he’s taken her by the middle jip
And by the green gown, green gown sleeve
And there he’s had his will of her
And he’s asked of her no leave, no leave
And he’s asked of her no leave

“Oh I’ve ridden east and I’ve ridden west
And I’ve ridden o’er, o’er the downs
But the bonniest lass that ‘ere I saw
Is calling the sheep to the fold, the fold
Is calling the sheep to the fold”

Now she’s taken the milk pale on her head
And she’s gone lingering, lingering home
And all her father, Oh said to her
Was, “Daughter you’ve done me wrong, me wrong”
Was, “Daughter you’ve done me wrong”

Now twenty weeks have gone and past
Twenty weeks, oh and three
And the lassie began to fret and to frown
And to long for his twinkling eye-bright-eye
And to long for his twinkling eye

Now it came on a day, a bonny summer’s day
When she went out, out alone
That selfsame troop of gentlemen
Came riding o’er the downs, the downs,
Came riding o’er the downs

“Who got the babe with thee Bonnie Mae?
Who got the babe in thy arms?”
For shame she blushed, and aye, she said
“I’ve a good man of my own, my own,
I’ve a good man of my own”

“You lie, you lie, you bonny, bonny Mae
So loud I hear, hear you lie
Remember that misty, murky night
I lay in the fold with thee, with thee
I lay in the fold with thee”

Now he’s lighted off his berry-brown steed
He’s set the fair Mae, fair Mae on
“Go call out the fold, good father yourself
She’ll ne’er call them again, again,
She’ll ne’er call them again”

For he’s the Lord of Achentrioch
With fifty plough, oh and three
And he’s taken away the bonniest lass
In all of the south country, country,
In all of the south country.

I was introduced to Bonnie Mae through
The Hour Before Dawn (2000) by Solas.
In addition to the group’s trademark instrumental
virtuosity, the album features the singing of Deirdre Scanlan,
whose ethereal and comforting voice encouraged
me to explore the emotional landscapes of this ballad.

4. English Sunlight 
Words & Music by Brian Buller
Arranged by Brian Buller & Ryan Eston Paul

Clouds of grey were tumbling
Or’ the calling countryside
Or’ the walls of Londinium
In the stirring of Spring

So intensely my heart was thrown for thee
As boughs in a tempest of March
As bright tips of waves spark
Now as I lie in the bosom of longing
There is the blanket of your hands
As the warming of the land

‘Neath English Sunlight
English Sunlight
As the warming of the land

Skies of white were galloping
Or’ the rising hillsides
Or’ the streets of Londinium
In the stirring of Spring

So intensely my heart was thrown for thee
As boughs in a tempest of March
As bright tips of waves spark
Now as I lie in the bosom of longing
There is the blanket of your hands
As the warming of the land 

‘Neath English Sunlight
English Sunlight

How I longed for thee
How I longed for thee...
As the warming of the land

Clouds of grey were tumbling
Or’ the calling countryside

With fumbling yet earnest words of yearning,
a spellbound traveler shares a bit of his story. 

5. Bushes and Briars 
Words & Music- Traditional
Arranged by Brian Buller & Ryan Eston Paul

Through bushes and through briars
She lately took her way
All for to hear the small birds sing
And the lambs to sport and play

She overheard her own true love
His voice it was so clear
Long time she has been waiting for
The coming of her dear

Sometimes she is uneasy
And troubled in her mind
Sometimes she thinks she’ll go to her love
And tell to him her mind

But if she should go unto her love
Her love he may say nay
If she shows to him her boldness
He’ll ne’er love her again

This song, to me, speaks of many things:
an ageless push and pull between woman
and man; of haunting and hope… of anger
and passion… of tenderness and longing.
I came to know this song through
Susan McKeown’s 1998 album
Bushes & Briars;
a very persuasive and dynamic recording.

6. The Riverbank Faerie
Words & Music by Brian Buller
Arranged by Brian Buller & Ryan Eston Paul

Somber steps, the young man takes
To the Summer River’s muddy banks
Before him flows so hushed and fair
A face of blossoms adrift in the River’s hair
~ Adrift in, the River’s hair ~

Cottonwood alight
Such a sweet evening
Wishing for new life
In this sweet evening

In but a whisper, the young man speaks
To the Summer River’s stalks and reeds
To him comes in prickling skin
An answer in truth given to him

I hear you tonight
In this sweet evening
Wishing for new life
In this sweet evening

In drowning emotion, he falls to his knees
In a pool at the edge, his tears he leaves
In cupped hands, his face is washed
Away with sadness, away with loss
Away with sadness, away with loss

Now there’s, vine-like arms of stone-speckled skin
The Summer River embraces him
Around him flows so hushed and fair
A face of blossoms...
~ Adrift in, the River’s hair ~

I hear you tonight in this sweet evening
Wishing for new life in this sweet evening
I hear you tonight in this sweet evening
I give you new life with this sweet evening
I hold you tonight, with this sweet…
I give you new life, with this sweet…

A young man lost in his troubles and considering
the worst is drawn to a river’s edge. There he
encounters a benevolent creature of the
Otherworld, who offers him redemption and
renewal amid the splendor and wonder of
the Natural World.

7. The Dark Eyed Sailor
Words & Music- Traditional
Arranged by Brian Buller & Ryan Eston Paul

As I roved out one evening fair
It being Summer to take the air
I spied a sailor and lady gay
And I stood to listen, and I stood to listen
To hear what they might say

He said, “Fair lady why do you roam?
The day is spent and night is on.”
She heaved a sigh as tears did flow
“For me dark eyed sailor, for me dark eyed sailor,
So young and stout and bold.”

“‘Tis seven long years since he’s left this land
A ring he took of his lily-white hand
One half the ring is still here with me
But the other is rolling, but the other is rolling
At the bottom of the sea.”

He said, “Can’t you drive him right out of your mind?
Another young man you surely can find
Love turns aside and cold does grow
Like a Winter’s morning, like a Winter’s morning
When the hills are white with snow.”

She said, “I will never forsake my dear
Although we’ve parted this many a year
Gentile he was and no villain like you
To induce a maiden, to induce a maiden
To slight the jacket of blue.”

Then half of the ring did young William show,
She ran distracted in grief and woe
Saying, “William, oh William, I have gold in store
For me dark-eyed sailor, for me dark-eyed sailor
Who’s proved his overthrow.”

Now there is a cottage by yonder lee,
This couple is married and does agree
So maids be loyal when your love is away
For a cloudy morning, for a cloudy morning
Brings in a sunny day.

Here, as a token-ring ritual is being played out,
we have a story of desperate longing
and bitter doubts resolved through a reunion of the
true-hearted. My path for learning this song came
through Kate Rusby and Kathryn Robert’s 1995
collaborative album; I find their rendition of

The Dark-Eyed Sailor to be satisfyingly soul-piercing.

8. Inland the Eventide Moves
Words & Music by Brian Buller
Arranged by Brian Buller & Ryan Eston Paul

Inland the Eventide moves
In a whisper of sea air
Blushing the hills to the pink of a shell

Inward our thoughts move
Recalling so much
The Sea has given and likewise taken

Our loved ones, our kin
Their strength, their hardship
Let them sleep on a plank of moonlight
Oh, soft and silvery smooth

Let them drift with the gulls
Let them frolic with the Selkies
Let them rest in a nest of Western clouds
Aglow with the Sun

Lightly we will go
Gently the waves do roll

Lightly we will go (we’ll go)
Gently the waves do roll (they roll)…

Part lullaby, part elegy, this song speaks
of the Sea and its eternal roles as both
provider and thief. There is mention of
Selkies- referring to the ‘Seal People or
Seal Folk’ of Celtic and Nordic lore.
Dedicated to the memory of my
Uncle Warren who was lost to the waves
when I was just a kid.

Commentary by BB.

Thank you for listening and reading.  (:  

Album Thoughts

Thoughts on The Riverbank Faerie...

The Team:
First and foremost, credit must be given to my primary
musical collaborator Ryan Eston Paul. Ryan was responsible
for the technical production and was an indispensable partner in
the creative production process as well. He enhanced each song’s
depth and viability as a co-arranger, and played a dynamic role as a
multi-instrumentalist. He was also the sole engineer- recording, mixing
and mastering the project in his own humble yet sturdy Sandcastle Recording Studio.
I am profoundly grateful for his efforts, skills, and faith in helping bring to fruition my vision
for The Riverbank Faerie. In many senses, this album is as much his as it is mine. 
Additionally, this album features three fine female vocalists: Kristi Nelson
who can be heard fleetingly on The Dark-Eyed Sailor, Jamie Watson who is
featured on the title track, and most significantly, Jocelyn Paul whose voice
compliments the soundscape of nearly every song on the album. All three
of their voices have brought a great deal of magic to this project and I am very thankful. 

The Themes:
Stylistically speaking, there are many influences and inspirations
at play for this recording; it is truly – for better or worse – a fusion. 
Celtic, Folk, & Electronica are the three primary genres which hold
the most sway. Though clearly, there's more than just this musical
tripartite to factor in: Jazz and Gospel figure significantly in my upbringing
and so lend certain echoes to my efforts as well.  Also, I am a fan of Afropean,
Balkan, Hungarian and Nordic sounds- World music in general.  Invariably, my
affection for these diverse sounds makes itself known at times (however subtly
or inexpertly) through my singing and playing.  

As for the stylistic elements Ryan has brought to this album, there are many:
classical, folk, electro-pop, hip-hop and more have been channeled into these
song arrangements through his skills with string orchestration, beat articulation,
and supporting instrumentation.  Working with Ryan has been a very serendipitous
experience; successfully merging our diverse influences has created for me a sense
of optimistic faith in the recording process in general, as well as encouragement for the
potential of future projects.   

Lyrically speaking, the songs on this album, both traditional and original,
are a collection of stories, scenes, or moments- some from life lived in
the Pacific Northwest, others from lives past and present of those in
traditionally Celtic lands. There is a variety of characters, creatures, and
powers making appearances in these songs: Ordinary Mortals- busily
working or sad and searching, Gods & Goddesses- questing and deciding,
Faeries- fleeting and inspiring, Warriors- fighting and courting,
Maids shepherding, Horses galloping, Selkies swimming, Rivers speaking,
Winds recalling… 

The natural world and its monumental place in my spiritual perception of life
will always be present in my musical efforts, alongside notions or suggestions
of the supernatural and its importance for balancing the precariousness of human
existence.  Additionally, the motif of mortality and the beauty it can bring through its
limited power is a strong motivator for me. I am at once a hopeless romantic and a
grim realist (not unlike many songwriters past and present), and so the romantic
and the everyday move side by side through these songs.

Of course, only half the songs on this album
were written by me, the other half were created by individuals
in centuries past, and have since been embellished or vandalized (depending on
one's perspective) many times over by the likes of enthusiastic fools such as myself. 
We can only hope that the ghosts of these original authors will not frown too severely
on my 21st century re-interpretations.

Why did I choose these particular Traditional songs?
Well, a true analysis of my idiosyncratic criteria would 
consume another seven paragraphs.  So, I'll spare us all
by saying simply- they just seem to fit best.   
(Though, some additional commentary can be found in the Lyrics & Commentary section of this page).

Experimentally speaking...
I wanted to create an acoustic-digital hybrid sound where the elements were
given enough space to act out their parts and to come alive upon a sonic stage
uninhibited by time constraints. Storytelling and fantasy, human voice and primal
beat were the initial core concepts or building blocks in the making of this album. 
All the song arrangements started in the most rudimentary acoustic form, with just
a beat on the Bodhrán (Celtic frame drum) and a single vocal melody. 

Re-interpreting the traditional - striving for innovation
while respecting traditional sources - is another key theme and goal of this recording,
as is sharing original songs inspired by some of the musical, folkloric, and mythological
styles (whether actual or imagined) of Celtic Europe. Over time (much time), the layers
of the song-arranging process gradually increased, and as the soundscapes expanded
the more 'traditional' sounding origins were integrated into the greater terrain- in places
subtly so, in others more pronounced. 

Have these targeted themes and goals been effectively
transmitted through this album? 
Well, that is a mystery to be solved
only through the passing of time and through the feedback I receive from you the listener.

But whether or not I've hit the mark,
at least I've spoken aloud just what I was shooting for in the first place.  

As far as how to categorize the music on this album, that is an ongoing
exploration and consideration.  Currently, the working descriptive phrase
which seems to fit best is: Celtic-Inspired Folktronica.

The Dreams:
This album is experimental and therefore different. 
In some respects, it's a bit of a gamble;
it took years and a great deal of energy to create-
and heaven only knows how it will be received.

grand reception or no,
such is the arts, music, and life;
what can we do but pursue our muse?
My simple hope is that the unconventional elements in these songs
and arrangements will serve as an invitation to dream;
a respite from the ordinary. And that both the natural and supernatural
which may pass through this music will inspire the listener –
in little ways or big ways – to move beyond.

And... In Case You Were Wondering...

Why do I only have one full-length studio album?  
That is an excellent question and there are many answers to this question.  For me, the subject is complex, but answers can be generally summed-up within the four categories of: time, energy, resources, and idiosyncrasy.   
Perfectionism - for better or worse - has factored heavily into the equation. Funding challenges have also been a nagging reality (as we all know, quality studio time, engineering, and production typically doesn't come cheap).    
Decisions regarding the distribution of life energies and time investments- these are biggies in the equation as well: balancing life duties, goals, and responsibilities- be it family (I am a father & uncle), or school (I have two college degrees), or navigating the contemporary realities of juggling daily survival, work / vocations (musical and non-musical), recreation, health and happiness, and musical / artistic learning and exploration.  
I've done a ton of what I generally refer to as demo recordings in studios of various sizes and shapes.  I have been told many times by colleagues, friends, and fans, that what I am often referring to as demo quality, could easily be considered (by most anyone besides my own hyper-analytical self), as being album quality.  [Sigh...]  The quest and internal struggle continues.  
If one has the curiosity, patience and inclination, there's a fair amount (a general sampling) of my musical efforts - rough mixes, middle mixes, 'final' mixes, and raw live onstage or in-home video takes - on YouTube. 
There's much to say on this subject of album making.  But I'll leave it for now and just say that I am indeed working on completing my second 'full-length' album.  Stay tuned... 

Thank you.  (:

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