četvrtak, 22. kolovoza 2013.

Ambrose Field - Being Dufay (2009)

Vokalne ulomke flamanskog klasika Guillaumea Dufaya (1397-1474) pjeva tenor John Potter a Ambrose Field dodaje suvremeno-elektronički ambijent. Čudesno.



British tenor John Potter and his fellow countryman Ambrose Field, prize-winning composer of electronic/digital music, offer an unusual juxtaposition of Renaissance composition and present-day technology: In seven interconnected pieces, vocal fragments from the songs and sacred works by 14th-century composer Guillaume Dufay soar beautifully above Field's vast and multi-faceted soundscapes. Potter has long been committed to conceptual approaches to early music and, as a former blues and rock singer, has always had a strong interest in uncharted musical fields. His clear, almost boyish voice immerses itself with great ease in the allusively processed sounds. Ambrose Field, electronic music composer and performer, uses recorded environmental sound sources and custom computer processes to generate a distinctive soundworld that is dense and uncompromis-ingly relentless. Winner of four international awards including two Ars Electronica Honorary Mentions, he specialises in Surround Sound production, utilising formats ranging from 6.1 through to Ambisonics on installation, live music and film projects. John Potter, a singer with The Hilliard Ensemble and one of its prime conceptual thinkers, a vocalist of rare versatility and erudition, has written extensively on singing. His previous ECM album, with his own Dowland Project, 'Romaria', containing music from the Carmina Burana manuscript to Josquin Desprez, was released to critical acclaim in 2008. Personnel: John Potter (tenor), Ambrose Field (composer, live and studio electronics)

In a time when musical boundaries are being dissolved and labels are becoming increasingly meaningless, innovation can be found everywhere. When The Hilliard Ensemble collaborated with Norwegian Jan Garbarek on Officium (ECM, 1994) and the follow-up Mnemosyne (ECM, 1999), who knew that the combination of vocal music, ranging from pre-AD Greece to contemporary times, would mesh so beautifully with the legendary saxophonist's soaring improvisations? In the decade since, the emergence of composers who use electronics as their exclusive (but, by nature, infinite) palette—sampling for later use and in real time—has created a growing body of multidisciplinary work that continues to stretch preconception. With Being Dufay, released on ECM's classical New Series imprint, the label has taken another intrepid step into brave new world where processed and found sounds mesh seamlessly with musical fragments from the 15th Century to create one of the most hauntingly beautiful records of the year.
Composer Ambrose Field uses live and studio electronics to reshape the music of the little-known Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474) into fuller constructs, albeit ones that often sound not of this world. Celestial sonics—owing in no small part to the innovations of artists like Brian Eno—turn tenor (and ex-Hilliard Ensemble member) John Potter's plaintive and deeply expressive interpretations of Dufay's largely linear music into something altogether new. For those who feel that electronic music is inherently cold and lifeless, Field's music that wraps around Dufay's melancholic "Je me complains" is as resonant and evocative as any created with conventional instrumentation. From stark soundscapes based around a single pedal point to heavenly choral samples that lead into a lushly dramatic three-chord change that places Potter's processed vocal back in the mix before returning to a starker ending with Potter the dominant voice, this is music created by the heart as much as the mind.
Field and Potter assert that all music lives and breathes, and can be grist for new and creative reinterpretation. On the lengthy title track, Field and Potter create an ethereal soundscape of jagged textures and softer melodies. Like plainchant, Potter's primary melody is monophonic, without measured rhythm, allowing him greater interpretive freedom, even as Field layers Potter's own voice and an array of other sonorities to create an aural landscape best experienced rather than simply heard. Throughout the 12 minutes, Potter's clear voice emerges as a kind of focal point, around which Field's combination of musical and found sounds create an expansive sense of space, meant to create a sense of scale not unlike, as he writes in the liner notes, "a human figure...introduced into a vast architectural scene for measurement purposes."
If any of this sounds unapproachable, it isn't. All that's required, when listening to Field and Potter, are an ear and mind open to any and all possibilities. With Being Dufay they've shaped a classic contemporary work, placing music on a timeless continuum of in perpetuity existence. - John Kelman 

 ECM records prove that time and time again they have some really creative artists in their catalogue and as a result, their albums are always intriguing and seldom, if ever, disappointing. This new release from Ambrose Field and John Potter is no exception; it is part of a fascinating project which takes fragments of late mediaeval music and uses them to present 'Guillaume Dufay in the present tense' as Field puts it. The project originally started life as a commission from a festival in the Italian town of Vigevano (near Milan) and following that success has grown, over some three years, into the seven linked pieces on this album. The artists are in interesting pairing. John Potter was, for seventeen years, a member of the Hilliard Ensemble and sung on the majority of their albums including the famous ones with Jan Garbarek (another ECM triumph) and now combines his solo career with academic work – he is an important authority on the history of vocal production. Ambrose Field is an award-winning composer who specializes in digital techniques and computer processes which draw on environmental sound sources, and, in this instance, a digital map of Potter's voice. The result of their work is a rich series of soundscapes which have been set to a backdrop by the video artist Mick Lynch. Some of this live version can be seen on YouTube (search for 'Being Dufay') but the audio experience of this album stands alone perfectly well. Fragments of Dufay's work run throughout the album in various guises. In the first work, 'Ma belle dame souveraine', Potter's vocals float on a minimalist ribbon of music, the result is a wistful sound world which Field describes as 'a picture of resonances, hanging in the empty air of a great cathedral…' and indeed, for me it is that sense of huge spaces that pervades all seven pieces and binds them together. More obvious electronic intervention characterizes 'Je me complains' in which the full power of the digital Potter is unleashed towards the end when it 'explodes into full audio technicolor'. The labyrinthine qualities of Italian castles and Dufay's musical technique combine over the next two tracks 'Being Dufay' and 'Je vous pri' until there is a reflective pause in the form of an electronic intermission 'Presque quelque chose' after which the vocal processing in Sanctus is turned up several notches and the album finally finishes with the melancholic 'La dolce vista'. The listener can choose to be guided, as I have, by Field's brief but enlightening liner notes or can just let their listening experience take its natural course. These works are often as intricate as Dufay's compositional technique, borrowing and reworking from the musical fragments, from Potter's voice and from nature. Thankfully, Field steers clear of loud aggressive electronic sounds so the net result is a deeply reflective (possible introspective?), fond memory of Dufay which merges into the modern landscape. Time also plays an important role, the transcendence of the age of Dufay –as he steps into the present, and the timing of the vocal fragments, never hurried, never over-repeated. This latter point is illustrated in the touching way Dufay's biography sits alongside Field and Potter in the booklet as if his involvement were contemporary. There is a pleasing sense of irony in these works; Dufay the great borrower of other people's music is himself borrowed and the great user of the cantus firmus becomes the cantus firmus for someone else's composition. This is not the future for early music, and they don't try to claim that – but it is a future and one which deserves investigation with this kind of integrity. It offers beautiful and thought-provoking sound-scapes and I hope that the live performances start cropping up at more and more festivals in the near future. - Ed Breen

Guillaume Dufay
The early music revival has tended to focus on Dufay’s sacred music – the great masses and motets. His secular chansons however are miniature masterpieces of the genre. He was at home in French, Italian and Latin, and could turn his hand to love songs in all the so-called formes fixe of the period. Most were written early in his career – Je me Complains is actually dated 12th July 1425, when the composer was in his early-to-mid twenties.  Ma Belle Dame Souverain is a similarly early work. La Dolce Vista is a curiosity: the source is incomplete so we don’t know what the original form might have been, and in the live version we decide on the form as we go along. The sanctus  track is based on a short piece of chant from the Introit to the Missa Sancti Jacobi, which also dates from the 1420s.  For further information on the composer, see David Fallows’ definitive monograph Dufay (Vintage Books, 1988).

In memoriam H. M. Górecki: Pod Twoją Obronę was commissioned by the Gaude Mater Festival as the new work in a special event to mark what would have been Górecki’s 80th birthday anniversary. The piece is a long, unfolding of a single vocal line, ending in an enveloping haze of harmony. It is written for 25 singers, one to a part, and the sense of focus changes through the textures as time flows forwards.
This extract is a recording of the premier performance on 1.05.2013 in Gdansk by the national chamber choir of Poland, Polski Chor Kameralny. The work is entirely in Polish and last for 18 minutes. Jan Łukaszewski, conducting.
Press comments: ”The Field piece is emotional and expressive. Singers voices intertwine and unravel, creating a shimmering mass of sonic colours. Field translated inspiration not only from Gorecki, but Lutoslawski and Ligeti, into the chorus, giving it a new and involving sound. Listening to his work allows you to move briefly into another dimension. Warmly received by the audience,the Field, and the works of Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, with excellent execution from Polish Chamber Choir, is a very good debut Czestochowa Festival in Gdansk”
(“Field Góreckiemu” | Dziennik Bałtycki | 06-05-2013)
Pod Twoją obronę  is a major new choral work commissioned by the Gaude Mater Festival, Poland, for the 24 voice Polski Chor Kameralny. It is written to commemorate the 80th birthday anniversary of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki.
Large-scale, intricate evolving textures emerge to create a haze of harmony and internal detail. Each singer is both a soloist, and part of the ensemble. Pod Twoją obronę goes beyond my previous work Architexture I in exploring new sounds for choirs through bringing a 21st century view to early music techniques. I have tried here to keep the spirit of  Górecki alive, though no material is quoted or borrowed.  The world premier is in Gdańsk on May 1st.
Read more about the concert, conducted by John Lukaszewski | Kościół św. Katarzyny | Gdańsk | May 1 2013

Ebor Singers performing Achitexture 1 live | 19.9.2012 | Photo (C) Kippa Matthews.
Architexture 1 | Ebor Singers 19.9.2012 | photo  Kippa Matthews (c)
Specially commissioned, this  large-scale  polyphonic work is for ten voice choir which is spatially distributed.
Over the last few years, I’ve been working on devising some new types of polyphonic process, specifically for vocal music. This piece is the first fruit of some of my recent thinking about overlapping structures, and the wonderful sounds they can create. Polyphony can’t just be a structure or a system – it must appeal to our emotions, must result in singable parts without awkwardness, and provide a whole which is, somehow, more than the sum of the parts. Here are the Ebor singers, directed by Paul Gameson, in a short extract from the 22 minute work. Use headphones and switch to HD mode if you can, as the recording is very spatious.
Read more on the ideas behind this work >
Sonically delicate and technically challenging, the Quantaform Series is a new set of 26 pieces for solo flute which feature precise interactions between the performance acoustic and the notes on the page.

Here over on vimeo, Jos Zwaanenburg performs a couple extracts from our upcoming album recording.
Really pleased to announce that my new, multi-spatial audio project Frozen Voyagers, premiers in the RML Cinechamber at the MUTEK festival, Montreal this year on June 3rd at 7pm. Frozen Voyagers is a hard-hitting piece, dealing with contemporary social and cultural themes. The RML Cinechamber is an amazing, mobile immersive-media facility. It has high-resolution, multichannel audio and 10 screen surround video.
Frozen Voyagers uses the venue’s three-dimensional sound capabilities to the max, providing a feeling of concurrent and not stop action. This piece originally started life on an artistic residence at RML’s facility in downtown San Francisco.
More about the RML cinechamber can be found at http://www.rml-cinechamber.org/
My thanks go to the wonderful team at the A-Capella Festival in Leipzig for their effective and unusual staging of Being Dufay.  John Potter and I performed this in the round in the beautiful Peterskirche, with plasma screens hung high in the rigging showing the films. The Peterskirche has a superb acoustic – something that is very important to me. Video from the gig is available
or at full quality on Vimeo here.
Being Dufay will receive it’s final performance in the current series in April of next year. It takes place at the BMW sponsored A-Capella Festival in Leipzig, Germany on April 26th 2012. It’s an excellent festival who have worked previously with many other ECM artists, so we’re very much looking forwards to it. Being Dufay has now been performed in over 13 Nations, at some really great venues. We’re very thankful to our audience for making this such an enjoyable experience.
I’m working currently on a new vocal music project, which will shortly start being recorded. More news as it develops.
Here’s a section from the first performance of a new piece called “Anagram”. Featuring film by Michael Lynch, and tenor voice from John Potter. Recorded at the Old Customs House, Tampere.
The Tampere festival audience were treated to a preview of a brand new project Anagram yesterday. Anagram is currently nearing the end of preparation, and we wanted to show you some of it live alongside more familiar material. The Anagram project constructs new pieces around the smallest fragments of music by composers who themselves borrowed material from other composers. So I hope they don’t mind this process being done to them! But, the results of this combination are not presented linearly. If you are inclinded towards detective work, you can fit the pieces together. However, like an anagram, it is in the new combination of materials where exciting things start to happen. Anagram is sung by John Potter, with new film by Michael Lynch. Video available shortly.


Sargasso, London

Storm! is a gritty and impactful album which sets out to challenge the design of music with processed sound. Described as a hard hitting, post-industrial soundcape(*), Storm! fuses together synthesizer performance and processed field recordings.
The 2006 Prix Ars Electronica awarded Storm! an honourary mention in the Digital Music awards, and an extract is presented on the Ars Electronica Dvd (together with notes in the International Compendium Prix Ars Electronica ISBN 3-7757-1835-4 ).
The full album is available Sargasso, London (SCD  28054) with artwork by Jac Depczyk.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper commented “Storm! is a riveting, futuristic action-pic for the blind. And perhaps most disturbing of all, the future still seems to have metal guitar solos… If you need to thank the RAF in the sleeve notes of a CD, you have probably gone further than most to collect your sounds.”
In concert
Storm! played to a capacity audience at Montreal’s Elektra festival, 2005 in 6.1 Surround Audio. Whilst making the record, tracks were also performed at Cryptonal Festival (Berlin), and at the Los Angeles Convention Centre.
Storm!’s world is seen from a post-modern perspective -  more real than real, tiny details from our contemporary culture are isolated from their surroundings and magnified beyond all expectation to become new experiences in their own right.

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