Alex Lockwood‘s ‘Test Subjects‘ is a short documentary that tells the story of Frances, Emily & Amy – three aspiring research scientists coming to terms with the ethical dilemmas and wrenching emotional burdens associated with conducting animal testing in the ostensible interests of bettering human health. The music for the film was scored by American composer & multi-instrumentalist Aaron Martin and follows his collaboration with From the Mouth of the Sun partner Dag Rosenqvist on the soundtrack for 2017’s acclaimed independent film ‘Menashe‘ as well as his score last year for William Armstrong’s inspiring mini-documentary ‘Adam‘.
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Watching a city awaken on autumn morning through rivulets of rain running down a coffee shop window seems only fitting while while listening to the new album created by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh with his 10-string hardanger d’amore and pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett aka Doveman while musing on the implications of their selection of ‘Snow’ (1960) by pioneering photographer Saul Leiter for the cover.
The two have worked together since 2011 as members of the Irish/American folk supergroup The Gloaming where Bartlett describes their role as making “cloud shapes” around the band’s “volcanic” core, and this new solo record can be seen as something of a serendipitous outgrowth of that project. The initial spark came while The Gloaming was on tour in Mexico in the spring of 2015 and
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The partnership of visual artist Anna Salzmann and composer/musician Garreth Brooke (aka Garreth Broke) has always been a special one both personally and creatively. Their latest work together is entitled Healing and combines 11 abstract artworks by Anna with 25 minutes of piano music by Garreth which seeks to explore this complex and sometimes contradictory emotional process from several perspectives.
“Healing explores the complex, not always linear process of healing. Any struggle is full of contradictions: there are moments of pain and relief, tension and release, opacity and clarity. Part of what made Anna and I fall in love with each other was a shared need to create, whether that was art or music, and a recognition that we were both creating in order to heal. Like all couples, we have old wounds, whether they be physical or mental. We’ve found that the act of creation/healing is far more powerful when working together because it forces us to listen more carefully, to act more wisely, to strive to find workable compromises.” – Garreth
In art as in life, Anna and Garreth prove to be ideal complements for one another as can be seen in this video premiere of the touching opening sequence of the album (“Intro”/”Hiding”) accompanied by Anna’s striking watercolor & ink images in motion.
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Since 2009, William Ryan Fritch has composed music for over 30 feature films and more than a hundred short films as well as releasing over 20 solo records. How does one attempt to showcase such a body of work in a single album and make it cohesive and compelling? Consider Deceptive Cadence: Music For Film Volume I & II a masterclass in just that. At forty-five tracks and a two & a half hour run time, the cleverly titled double album is sourced from material bound to many disparate narratives, yet Fritch has carefully curated the selected compositions in a way that transcends the original context to create something majestic and new, a singular opus that a listener can come to with fresh ears and experience with unfettered joy & wonder.
“Most of those familiar with Fritch, know only of his albums as a singer songwriter or genre-elusive multi-instrumentalist, which truly represent a small fraction of the depth and range of his work. ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ gathers the most remarkable and memorable pieces from Fritch’s vast catalog of film compositions. Rather than filling up two volumes with half assembled film cues and fragmented themes, Fritch has gone to great lengths with ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ to make sure both volumes tell a story, build theme, and create a satisfying full album experience as good as any movie they may have come from. While this music once graced a particular film, show, or commercial, it has all been reimagined, reworked and made whole in post-production to complete the epic narrative of ‘Deceptive Cadence…’ ” – Lost Tribe Sound
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Richard J. Birkin divides his time between making music as a recording artist, composing for TV & film, and being the lead creative technologist for Time Travel Opps where his artistic and technical acumen come together to produce digital projects for the arts as well as consultation in the commercial sector. The common thread in all these aspects of his work is a focus on creating emotionally compelling interactive experiences that people can connect to in a meaningful way. This makes him perhaps the ideal person to have collaborated with author Jon McGregor in the promotion of his award-winning novel Reservoir 13, which examines life in a village in England’s Peak District in the days, months, & years following the mysterious disappearance of a teenage girl.
McGregor was looking for a way to promote the book on tour that would be more engaging than the de rigueur format of simply reading passages and answering questions for an audience. Enter Birkin, who keyed off the novel’s atmospheric nature and repetitive themes to create a soundtrack that would help bring it uniquely to life in live, interactive, and recorded performances. The music was based on a local Derbyshire folk song called “Tip O’Derwent” which, serendipitously echoing the novel itself, is also about someone who goes missing in the wilds in that part of the country.
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Madeleine Cocolas is no stranger to incorporating music with other art forms. She has composed numerous works music for film, dance, and art exhibitions from painting to textiles. It should be no surprise, then, the fondness she developed for The Metropolitan Museum of Art after recently relocating to New York and on her newest album she finds a unique way to express her love for both the city and the museum while creating a highly engaging intersection between modern art, generative music, and compositional forms. The approach is best described by Cocolas herself:
“When I moved to New York City, I knew I wanted to write an album somehow connected to the city, but I wasn’t sure how to anchor it. It was probably on my third or fourth trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art that I realized how much I loved The Met, and how much it meant to me to be there. I chose nine artworks…that really resonated with me, used custom software programmed by Gregory Long specifically for this project to analyze an image of each artwork to create sounds, and then incorporated those sounds into my compositions. Each track on the album represents an individual artwork, so the album is like a collection of individual works.” – Madeleine Cocolas
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Even with a thesaurus ever just a mouse-click away, one begins to run out of superlatives to describe the music of Aaron Martin. Perhaps it is the unpretentious, organic beauty. Perhaps it is sublime balance between the earthly and the empyrean. Perhaps it is simply that truth resonates in each handmade note, of which not one is ever wasted. If you have heard Aaron’s work, you know exactly what I mean. If you have not, then a wonderful starting point would be his contribution to Touch Dissolves, the album portion of sixth edition of IIKKI Books in which volume is presented as a dialog between two artists, one visual and one musical (the visuals in this edition are provided by Turkish photographer Yusuf Sevinçli).
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What is a memory? It is not such a silly question. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Try to put it into words. What IS a memory? How do they accrue such significance to our sense of self? Musician Tim Linghaus wrestles with this in a beautiful and touching way on his latest album called Memory Sketches. Tim’s experiences with making music began when he discovered his father’s Yamaha drum machine and guitars when he was a young boy in the GDR. During his university years he played guitar in a couple of bands ranging from metal to singer/songwriter, but of late his music is mainly based on piano, synthesizers and noise. If you have had the joy of listening to his debut Vhoir, then you know it is of an exceptionally thoughtful and delicate nature and the new album continues very much in the same vein but with a very particular purpose as Tim explains.
“What is a memory? Is it a residue of our past conjured into being by pictures in our minds? Is it our former self communicating with our present one or the other way around? Is it a recurring emotion or smell we notice in a déjà vu or a daydream? Is it an individual sum of those aspects? What I know is that memories help me to define who I am. They establish connection between me and everything that is not present or future – sometimes sharp and palpable, more often soft and frail. Unfortunately, some memories fade away irrevocably. Hence, I am quite afraid of losing them.” – Tim Linghaus
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Oddly enough, I don’t remember which painting it was, but I will never forget the way it felt to stand for the first time in front of an original Van Gogh at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In some ways it was a disorienting experience. I recall becoming light-headed as if the colors & textures on canvas were alive and in perpetual motion. This phenomenon proved to be no fluke as I found in subsequent opportunities to view his work in person again years later at the VMFA’s Art of the Flower exhibition and again during a first visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.
I am sure I am far from being alone in being so viscerally affected by the vibrancy of Van Gogh’s work. In fact, there is now a stunning new film that goes so far as to literally bring many of the his paintings to life even as it purports to tell the story of the events leading to his tragic early death. Written & directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, their animated film Loving Vincent was meticulously hand-painted by a team of 115 artists.
“Loving Vincent is the upcoming biographical animated film from newcomer directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman about Vincent van Gogh’s final days and the attempt by an acquaintance of his son (played by Douglas Booth) to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. A film unlike any other, it is entirely hand painted – each of the movie’s 65,000 frames is an oil painting on a canvas created using the same techniques as Vincent van Gogh.”
Continue reading “Through a Musical Lens: Loving Vincent OST by Clint Mansell [Milan Records]”