When These Rocks Were Still Young (3 stars)

When These Rocks Were Still Young

Evocative and atmospheric Fringe music film from composer Oliver Cox about tapping into our natural world

Getting back to nature has been a common theme for many people since March 2020. For those whose circumstances allowed it, heading into forests and going down by the water was a way of escaping this pandemic and perhaps discovering the true meaning of life. While a road trip around the Highlands and Islands which composer Oliver Cox undertook for his music and film odyssey When These Rocks Were Still Young began in 2019, there was never any doubting that its relevance would be elevated by our recent experiences.

As universal a message as this is, it's also very much Oliver Cox's story as he recounts how his travelling instincts were hampered by Covid keeping him in one place, walking identical pathways and taking a swim in the same sea for a six-month period. But as he gazes off into the distance or up towards the skies (this happens a lot) he is aware of the ancient lands around him and the natural world above. Even in a time when performing live had begun to seem like a pipedream off into an uncertain future, how could a musician and composer not be inspired by this environment?

Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis provides an otherworldly presence and evocative vocals for a trio of pieces drenched in atmosphere and filmed inside Cox's studio while there's talk about recalibrating and dramatic images of murmuration. The final result is a perfectly charming musical musing on escaping modern civilisation with a film that looks gorgeous, but one which doesn't really nudge the soul or have the heart beating much faster.

When These Rocks Were Still Young, Fringe Player online, until Monday 30 August, free.

When These Rocks Were Still Young

  • 3 stars

Oliver Cox, Julie Fowlis and Webb St Studios An immersive journey through music and film into the magnificent and ancient landscapes of Scotland, featuring a beautiful original score for voice, piano, percussion and electronics, written and performed by Scottish composer Oliver Cox and award-winning Gaelic vocalist Julie…