vrijdag 13 februari 2015
.No's February Kairos.
Kairos' usual start, the sonorous voice over under some faint piano notes, blends with a piano composition of Howard Skempton. The proverbial slowness in playing is on display, but it is sort of hard to know what happens next. Tape hiss and a lady voice proclaiming a text. I guess this is Michael Pisaro's 'Unmoon'. What all the other people mentioned in the liner notes of this month's Kairos have been doing on this recording, I just don't know. And where does 'Unmoon' start and where does Natascha Barrett's 'Submerged' begin? All is shrouded by musical mist, tape hiss and atmospheric un-music. There's no telling for the simple rockfan like I am.
Next it becomes clear. 'Sicut lilium' by Henk Badings is a choir like they have in large churches. The voices are the angelic sounding Schwester Hochfünf. Five ladies called Tschuschke who take the melody full on and weave their parts in an intricate and delicate way. There's no forcing here, just rest and contemplation.
'...og lengra' by Ólafur Arnalds blends wonderfully well with the voices. It could be a mere continuation of 'Sicut lilium'. Arnalds' piano provides the basic notes for the violins to play their soft melodies over. The rustling of the waves on a clear, windless day. Nothing, crash of the wave on the beach, rustling, nothing and crash. That is what '...og lengra' reminds me of. The ease of a warm day at the beach, but somehow also the threat of canons far of in the distance. Strange by true.
We remain in Iceland as the next contribution is by another composer we have met in the past months. Ólafur Björn Ólafsson with two compositions: 'Knoll of Juniper' and 'Molasses'. The first is a one minute composition, over before I know it. It sounds somewhat difficult, as if the players receive the next note only the moment they have to play it or even one second behind that moment. The second composition is darker, with a rustling in the background under the instruments, as a form of extremely slow rhythm. So minimal in impact. Both are contemplative and totally at ease with the world.
Next up is by an anonymous. 'Quant la doulce jouvencelle by Asteria is a Medieval sort of song, brought in a very serious way. I can imagine the same composition as a sort of jig played by Fairport Convention and by default Celtic punkrockers Dropkick Murphies. No problem at all. Sylvia Rhyne and Eric Redlinger chose to approach 'Quant la doulce jouvencelle' as if they are singing in a church environment, with the bishop himself present. Solemn and serene. It certainly works this way also.
Another of .No's favourites comes by as well: Arvo Pärt. 'The deer's cry', played by Ars Nova Copenhagen with Paul Hillier conducting. The choir's singing starts over the drone of Wiese. 'Christ with me"?, at least I think) is sung in low and high voices. All extremely serious. There's no hint of humour here. Hearing a choir sing I'm always touched and surprised by the power of and variety in the human voice. How intricate the voices can come together and float apart at the same time, creating this myriad of voices that together make up a complex composition. Although I never play this sort of music at home, when running into it by chance in a church, where else, I always have to listen. Fascinating.
Karina Eps is also back on Kairos. A bit more eclectic although how strange it may sound, the comparison with Pärt is not that large. Just listen to the swelling and deflating of the electronics of Gowers. The radio frequency sound didn't even detonate under 'The deer's cry. While the two musical worlds could not be more apart. The bass Gowers plays is straight out of Pink Floyd. 'Distant light' is very modern, past music, so more sounds that could be in a soundtrack of a movie where the actors are trying to get into touch with something or someone out there, but making no connection. A story like 'On the beach'.
And there are those birds again.
You can listen to this month's Kairos here: