Ninian Hawick (pronounced "HOYK") is a loosely assembled pop collective residing in Minneapolis, MN, masterminded and tended to by multi-instrumentalist John Crozier. Soundist / composer / guitarist John is one of Minneapolis's best kept musical secrets. He has been involved with a score of bands over the years, most recently with Amy Turany in the guise of Ninotchka (grimsey 006) as well as co-starring roles with the Shebrews, Hang Ups and the Legendary Jim Ruiz Group.
   "Steep Steps" features 3 vocal tracks (along with a remix of the Scottish Rite Temple Stomp) and 5 instrumentals ranging from musique concrete to solo piano to French disko. Heather McElhatton provides the vocals on the lead lead off song, accompanied by a delicious supporting cast of bagpipes, lead kick drum, piano, and buzzed out guitars. Other guest vocalists appear on the EP - Ashley Souter does 'a turn as French nightclub singer over new wave groove'* on "Mon Récit," and Patrick Durgin goes poetic on "Phrasebook Wands" - though the other vocal tracks are curiously attributed to another "band name" Ailsa Craig. (Confused? Yes, so are we.)

I asked John Crozier (the songwriter) for some additional band information, and here is what he told me :: The group started in 1995; this I clearly remember as it was the same year that Windows 95 was released. Yes, Microsoft (one of the most popular groups ever) has sold more copies of Windows 95 than we have of SRTS, but we're gaining on them all the time. Heather and I met for ice cream and then we went for a walk. (The rest of the group was having a time-out that evening.) Somehow, we ended up on the steps of the Scottish Rite Temple in Minneapolis's Uptown district. This is the area where *Kulplayaz* was filmed. Most of the exteriors of Woody Allen's *Interiors* were shot here as well. Remember the last scene when Woody and Dianne Keaton have their tearful reunion and Keaton says, "Well, like maybe you ought to have a little more faith in people and stuff like that" and then--BOOM!--"She Loves You" by The Beatles comes on the soundtrack and they kiss? Well, that was shot on the steps of the Scottish Rite Temple, but you can't tell where it is because of the extremely shallow depth of field utilized to suggest claustrophobic intimacy.

About the track There has been a rumor going around for ages--it is believed to have originated at pro.rec.audio.pro--that SRTS was made on a pre- World War I wire recorder. Well, it wasn't quite that simple. The basic tracks were created on a Yamamaha MT-120 4-track. These tracks were then carefully (I remember the engineer's words to this day--"Quiet everyone! We're transferring audio!") dubbed to a Strudler 24-track machine in Studio A, the big room at The Terrarium, Minneapolis's premier recording studio. At this point the rest of the tracks were filled with various bits, motifs, and suchlike, and then mixed down to a Pansonic DAT recorder. Finally, the track was played at amazing velocity over the Genuflex monitors straight into a single (yes, mono!) very ancient Neimann-Markus microphone from whence it rode the Skulky lathe up and down the RIAA curve till it was captured by a prehistoric Vebkkyr wire recorder.