However long it takes to put this seemingly interminable pandemic in the rear view mirror, one day down the road we will get the chance to look back fondly on the bright spots of kindness, creativity, and friendship that illuminated the darker times. But that does not mean we can’t savor them now where we find them. Take for instance this lovely album of original pieces written and recorded as ‘blind collaborations’ as a response to the COVID-19 crisis by 11 Preserved Sound artists across Europe, North America and Australia: Aaron Martin, Adrian Lane, Ales Tsurko, Benjamin Louis Brody, Cédric Dind-Lavoie, Glacis, Neal Heppleston, Tess Said So, Thomas Méreur, Trigg & Gusset and Visionary Hours.
The process involved each artist recording a basic track which was then sent to three others each of whom would add an overdub. Unlike the ‘exquisite corpse’ concept, where each addition becomes a link in a growing chain, here each response was created in isolation so that no one could hear what the other participants were contributing. The blind additions were then sent to the original artist who used them to finish their piece.
The word “Invisible” not only refers to the concept that the COVID virus can’t be seen, but also that contributing artists collaborated on the pieces blindly without knowing what each other was recording. The album showcases the combined response of Preserved Sound’s community of artists to the unfolding COVID crisis – with the individual pieces coalescing to create a cohesive whole.preserved sound
Indeed, the joy of this record is not so much to be found in its methods of creation, as clever as they may be, but in just how seamlessly it all comes together and how beautifully all the strands intertwine. If the artists had been in the same room, one might attribute this to the kind of telepathy that musicians find with each other when performing. To achieve this in the blind, however, I surmise has more to do with the thoughtfulness with which they each must have listened to what they were given to work with and the mutually respectful care taken to leave ample space for others to fill in. The communication may have been asynchronous and remote, but the music that was created is no less profound for it. In fact, many of these pieces are so achingly beautiful, they project a palpable longing for meaningful human connection, the kind of which this relentless pandemic has deprived so many from having for far too long.
Invisible is available as a digital download as well as a hand-assembled limited edition CD. All proceeds will support children affected by COVID-19 across the developing world via the charity Mary’s Meals (£7.95 is the cost Mary’s Meals is able to feed a child for half a year). The cover features original artwork by Adrian Lane and the album was mastered by Ian Hawgood.