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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Music update: Tim Hecker & James Wood

Tim Hecker was recently taken to Evensong at St Martin-in-the-Fields by The Guardian Guide. He was asked what was he thinking about while in church:

'Lots of things, he says, but mainly “how arrogant modern music is. The power of polyphonic vocal in a reverberant space – it’s simple and transcendent. I found myself questioning my work. Like, in 2016, is music better than it was in 1547? Probably not, right?”'

In his Guardian review Alexis Petridis says of Hecker's Love Streams:

'The sound of Love Streams, meanwhile, features what you might call areas of outstanding natural beauty – a pipe organ reverberating around a Reykjavik church, woodwind and the voices of both the Icelandic Choir Ensemble and (according to the sleeve notes) a choir recorded in the infamous “ghost city” of Ordos, Inner Mongolia. Fractured and electronically warped, framed by luminous, becalmed synthesiser tones, they end up fighting for space with hair-raising digital distortion and bursts of static, crackling noise.'

Also reviewed, by Andrew Clements, is James Wood's Cloud-Polyphonies; Tongues of Fire:

'James Wood is an outstanding percussionist as well as a composer and conductor, and all three strands of his musical life come together in Tongues of Fire, his 2001 piece for chorus and percussion quartet. It’s a setting of the Pentecost story, taken mostly from biblical sources, fleshed out with other texts. They are sung mostly in Latin American Spanish (chosen for its “crisp rhythmic articulations, and possibilities for salsa-like syncopations”, says Wood), apart from a climactic section when the description of Christ’s followers speaking in tongues triggers an eruption of different languages from the chorus – Hebrew, Maori, Jamaican English, Latin, Hungarian, German and French. It’s an especially virtuoso moment in Wood’s exuberant choral writing, which is constantly propelled by his equally inventive writing for the percussion quartet playing on oil drums, from which they extract an amazing range of textures and colours, which are vividly realised by the Ear Massage Percussion Quartet.'


James Wood - Cloud-Polyphonies.

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