Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Angharad Davies & Tisha Mukarji - 'endspace' (another timbre AT05cd)

The line between improvisation and certain forms of composition has often been blurred and hard to define. Are those terms mutually exclusive? Are they sometimes just semantics? Well, for many the term ‘composition’ should never extend to anything not written down, not set in stone. However equally it could be argued that improvisation means without prior knowledge, without elements of the compositional process (shape, form, outcome, etc).

There are examples out there of
music that has such a coherent structure, such a successful musical arc that it extends way beyond the most widely referenced definitions of that term. Of course these definitions aren’t always important, except that many people rely on them in order to decide what to listen to, what recording to purchase or what performance to attend. So, in that context, if you’re interested in improvised music, contemporary composition, both or, more to the point, music of artistic quality, with the ability to challenge and bring pleasure - that indefinable thing that can be examined and analyzed but never fully explained, buy this recording, live with it & allow it to exist in your listening.

Angharad is one of those rare musicians who uses space with an uncanny ease and liquidity that makes it as much a part of her music as the sounds coming from her violin and bow. In recent years she has become one of the most understated, under represented (compared to the slurry of releases some artists produce) but vital improvisers around. Actually having just written the word ‘improviser’ in reference to Angharad it has reminded me how this term seems to be becoming less able to sum up certain artists output. Anyway, that’s another discussion.

Tisha’s playing of inside piano / square piano frame had previously been documented on her solo disc for Creative Sources ‘D is for din’ and I’d say that listening to the solo disc & then ‘endspace’ would serve as a good example for how highly successful interaction can influence each participants individual contribution dramatically. These two artists have such a lyrical and tangible respect for both the space and interplay between them that the performance is as precise in its musical success and ability to communicate its creative impulse that it seems destined to become a milestone recording for this area of music.

‘endpace’ is an album that inspires and no doubt will increase the number of musicians attempting similar feats, but which at the same time instantly pushes the music forward and away from repetition.

In the coming weeks there will another post on the music of Angharad Davies & one on Tisha too hopefully. Meanwhile a link to Angharad's website & that of ‘another timbre’ can be found in the link list.

additional comments (added 21-3-08): following two conversations about this release & indeed this blog in general i've decided to add the following:

1) I use the term 'space' in reference to Angharad's playing & it has been pointed out to me that this recording features very little 'space' in terms of silence. Well, I believe the use of space doesn't have to just apply to moments of emptiness. It can refer to stillness and the use of 'space' in terms of placement for example. I think it has, over the course of the last 50 or so years, become a more explorative musical term in itself and both defined and challenged by current developments in improvisation and composition.

2) emotions: I was asked 'do I talk about my emotions on the blog' & it occured to me that I haven't done this much yet. However, for me emotions are at the heart (!) of why I do what I do, enjoy what I enjoy & indeed why I decided to create this blog. So, in the context of this post i'd like to add that whenever I put this recording into the cd player there's a sense of excitement. A sense of sheer pleasure - pleasure at the simple act of listening to music that inspires and creates an engaging musical pressence in my living room & a pleasure at listening to music that adds to my daily life in different ways. At the very core of why I value this release, this music is that it has a positive effect when I listen to it and I know that it will continue to offer things to me for a long time to come. It's a recording that will sink in, that extends beyond its surface and that continues to offer new details on each hearing.

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