Heavens story

Heaven's Isle
background story


'Heaven's Isle' is a keyboard-based instrumental album about an island called Lundy, situated just off the North Devon coast. On a clear day the island is visible from numerous beaches along the coastline.

In 1996 I took a number of trips to the island and instantly, as happens to many, fell in love with the island. I remember returning from my first trip, utterly exhausted, having tried to see and do as much as possible. Upon arriving home, I sat at the piano and a piece - "Alone at Last" - began to develop. This was closely followed by "Flight of the Sea Birds". Another visit to the island followed soon afterwards and more ideas started to flow. An album was in the making!

The next step was to try and get the album an association with the the island. Myself and associate Mike Philps went to see the Managing Director of the Landmark Trust. We arrived at Crown Hill Fort, another of the Landmark Trust's properties, where we had a very constructive meeting and came away with their full support.

The writing of the album continued into the end of 1996 and by Christmas, ten of the eleven tracks were complete. I had a specific idea for the final piece - I wanted it to be a piano solo, not a hectic piano piece, but one that the listener could enjoy as a reflection of the whole album. I had a few ideas but nothing definite and the studio sessions were booked for the 2nd of Jan 1997. Christmas came and went and New Year's Eve was rapidly approaching. I had finished the whole album except for this last piece and I only had a couple of days left. New Year's Day was out for recovery purposes and so the final writing session had begun. The whole piece finally came together in two performances - I had composed my last track 'Memories' and finished writing the album with a couple of hours to spare!

The sessions, recorded at a local studio not far from the coast, went well despite having had to share the live room with the owner's collection of classic Minis! I added a few overdubs and a little bit of guitar. The album was officially launched with a party and river cruise aboard the M.S. Oldenburg, the island's ferry. I managed to get my finger caught in the bottle of champagne much to the amusement of the press and guests. My dad Rick and his wife Nina flew in specially from the Isle of Man and my brother Adam also turned up and drank all the beer!

The album was released to great acclaim and we sold out of our initial press run very quickly. Various tracks from the album have been featured on television (BBC1 and Westcountry) and on two videos to date. The album has been played on board the Oldenburg during its many trips to and from the island.

'Heaven's Isle' will be exposed to a wider audience when Verglas Music re-release the album later this year. At the time of the recording sessions I had written a couple of other tracks, 'The Outward Journey' and 'If a Picture...' which never made it on to the original release due to the time restraints. The re-release will be the perfect opportunity to include these extra tracks and so earlier this year the original team were reunited for a day, this time at my studio, to record and mix these two pieces. I feel that these two new pieces have finished off the album perfectly.

I hope that the music of 'Heaven's Isle' will be able to reach a new audience who, if the opportunity to visit the island arises, will see and hear what inspired me.

Oliver Wakeman
March 1999