‘Hooloovoo’ liner notes

Last year, I was commissioned by the brass quintet Mardi Brass to write a piece for their upcoming album ‘Something New’. The album will be the last in their ‘Something’ series (can you guess what the other records are called?), and will focus on new compositions/arrangements written especially for this project.

I sent over my offering in Autumn, and was excited to hear in February that it has been recorded! The piece is called ‘Hooloovoo’, after a creature from ‘The Hitch-Hikers’ Guide To The Galaxy’: it’s a tribute to the late HHGTTG author Douglas Adams, who would have been 60 in 2012. Mardi Brass asked me to write some liner notes/blurb about my contribution, which resulted in the following:


In 2012, when I wrote this piece, the late author Douglas Adams would have celebrated his 60th birthday. The occasion was marked with a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, and when I was asked to write something for Mardi Brass I thought straight away of a ‘blue’ connection that would allow me to make my own tribute. Adams wrote what was probably the most important non-trilogy of books in my childhood, ‘The Hitch-Hikers’ Guide To The Galaxy’ series (there are in fact five novels in the ‘trilogy’). I spent many hours happily lost in the fantastical universe of the HHGTTG, with its array of absurd, wonderful characters and places. This is a universe where humans are the lab-rats in a giant experiment presided over by mice, where a cupcake wired to a person’s head can provide a sudden crushing vision of her own insignificance in the cosmos. It is the home of the ‘Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster’, a cocktail the effects of which are described as ‘like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick’.


One of the inhabitants of the HHGTTG universe is the Hooloovoo. Admittedly, it has a small walk-on part at the beginning of the fist book, but it’s a fascinating creature nonetheless: a super-intelligent shade of the colour blue. The Hooloovoo is part of the team responsible for building the starship ‘Heart of Gold’, and we encounter it at the launch ceremony for the ship, ‘temporarily refracted into a free-standing prism’ for the occasion. This is the scene I was attempting to evoke with the piece: the bustling atmosphere of the opening ceremony, with interjections by its attendees, hailing from various corners of the galaxy. I tried to make the music shape-shift like its namesake, and culminate in the triumphant unveiling of the ‘Heart of Gold’, a ship that becomes an important centre for the novels and, indeed, an important character in them. The Hooloovoo stands by, a splendid vision of blue, as the starship prepares to embark upon what will become, unbeknownst to the reader at this point, one hell of a voyage. All hail Douglas Adams, the architect of this universe and, as is said of one of the HHGTTG main characters Ford Prefect, ‘a frood who really knew where his towel was’.


More info on the release of the album when I know more…I’m looking forward to hearing the recording!

Edit: I just read that yesterday (11th March 2013) would have been DA’s 61st birthday, which makes this an accidentally timely post.