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CD Feature/ Annea Lockwood: "Thousand Year Dreaming/Floating World"

img  Tobias

While many of her colleagues have started composing “tracks” and “albums”, Annea Lockwood still thinks in “works” and “concepts”. Even though her CD-output is sizeable, most of it has remained a transfer from the physical world to an abstract medium. This has not been without merrit, as Lockwood eagerly points out herself in reference to “Floating World”: “Each of these recordings captures a truly transitory series of moments (...) fixing them digitally, but temporarily. When played, they become transitory once more (...) – a paradox I like very much.” On the disc at hand, two of her pieces face each other with a distance of almost ten years – what else do they tell us about her as a composer?

“Thousand Year Dreaming” dates back to 1990 and consists of five closely connected movements for a large group of performers within an extremely specific timbral range. More than anything, it is a work about resonance and sonorities rooted in improvisation: After a live performance with percussionist N. Scott Robinson and Art Baron, a lively discussion ensued about the creative success of their concert and the possibility of combining several didjeridus with the sounds of trumpets, trombines, oboes, clarinets, a frame drum and several other percussive instruments.

This simple idea is the basis for “Thousand Year Dreaming”, which furthermore draws inspiration from cave paintings, as well as Asian traditions and their focus on the tone as a self-sustained entity and as a cosmos which needs to be observed on its own. The resulting score uses poignant semitone motives, clustered harmonies and drones as its guiding lights, while sudden moments of constant grooves, vulnerable interactions between smaller groups within the ensemble and more concrete themes provide hooks and anchors for the meditatively engaged ear. Even though the piece was written with all of the performers in mind, the didjeridu (whose sound Lockwood describes as “the earth’s core pulsating serenely”) remains the key, thanks to its pervasive presence and eclectic functionalities – such as providing a space for the other instruments, seperating different scenes and sending rhythmic impulses. The “performance aspect”, which Annea Lockwood fostered in many of her older work, is reduced to a single moment, when the players mingle with the crowd, sonically massaging their shoulders or feet. It is not the only passages which cements this as a serious and stimulatingly diverse work in earth shades.

The difference with “Floating World” (1999) is remarkable. A piece based on field recordings of other artists, it is equally intense, yet obviously placed in a very different tradition. The sounds of a beach, oak tree branches, wind, the “New York Public Library” and “a sonogram of Ruth Anderson’s jugular” (among others) are combined for new aural images. Lockwood has edited the source material and added a sound here and there, but overall, she is less interested in what she can do to these recordings, but what associations they carry in their pure, unprocessed state. Her perceptive power in this regard is stunning – as diverse as her material may be, these collages do not sound mixed-up at all, but rather smooth, inviting and fluent in a very soothing way. Of course, she profits from the incredible clarity and depth of her collaborators’ contributions, but the credit for pasting them together into this coherent composition is all hers.

Juxtaposed in this fashion, these two pieces portray Annea Lockwood as an artist not simply obsessed with sound, but its every-day implications. The spirituality of “Thousand Year Dreaming” and the personal depictations of “Floating World” are just as much an invitation to different layers, as well as an immediate enrichment of our physical lives. The duality of fixed and evaporate elements remains true here as well – and makes for a great collection, which works separated into individual tracks and in the context of an entire album.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Pogus Productions

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