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Sunday, 26 April 2015

New (and old) music

Bill Fay's 'beautifully hymnal fourth studio album' Who is the Sender? 'contains sublime, heartfelt ruminations on nature and the world.' With less light and shade than Life is People but with a more consistently meditative tone, With profound simplicity, like that of Chance in Being There, Fay mourns the inhumanity of our warlike impulses while prayerfully calling for a new world to be manifest.

Carrie and Lowell is a meditation on grief observed that channels the emotional honesty of C. S. Lewis' reflection on his time in the shadowlands. 'I saw intimacy pass by while going about it's business, like something sung and felt by Sufjan Stevens on his new beautiful solitary and rich record filled with faith and disbelief and the resurrection of trust and dreams.'

To mark the 50th anniversary of the freedom marches as well as the Staple Singers’ performance at the New Nazareth Church on Chicago’s South Side, their concert has been remastered and restored to its original setlist and runtime. Pops Staples, patriarch, bandleader and musical visionary, had written a song about the freedom marchers called ‘Freedom Highway’ which was debuted at this concert and which became the family’s biggest hit to that date, a pivotal record, connecting gospel music with the struggle for civil rights, that inched them toward the pop mainstream without sacrificing their gospel message for a secular audience.

'The Staple Singers have left an imprint of soulful voices, social activism, religious conviction and danceable “message music.”' 'Pops and the family were rooted in gospel, blues, and "message music" traditions. He sang about darkness, and he sang about light. He's done it again [on 'Somebody Was Watching' from Don't Lose This], and while the song's arrival might be belated by over 15 years, it's a total gift to hear one of the greats completely owning his lane.'

I'm also currently discovering the music of Krzysztof Penderecki: 'naturally vibrant, sensual and with a very personal sense of architecture': 'If you simplified the last 100 years of music as a war between the forces of the atonal and the lyrical, Penderecki would be on the front lines of battle. He found fame, around 1960, as a forward-thinking avant-gardist, but later defected to the other side, looking back at the Romantics and even Bach for inspiration ... Much of his music is not for the faint of heart. With its viscerally intense drama (even in his non-stage works), this music occupies a sound world that can often be described as terrifying.' 

'The St. Luke Passion, completed in 1966, was a breakthrough piece for Penderecki, proving he was much more than a trendy avant-gardist ... It was also a major religious statement at a time when, under Soviet rule, the church was officially frowned upon.' 'In his music, Penderecki has approached politics, religion, social injustice and the plight of the common man, both in general terms and by considering specific individuals and events.' 

Arun Rath writes: 'Penderecki is not Jewish — he's not a survivor — but he is Polish. Auschwitz is basically in his backyard. A devout Christian writing authentically liturgical music, Penderecki seems to be wrestling directly with the question of how you can make peace with God after such horrors.'


The Staple Singers - Freedom Highway.

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