John Palmer (electronics), Antje Langkafel (bass flute), Sergej Tchirkov (accordion), Lydia Kucht (soprano), Vinko Globokar (trombone), Yseult Jost and Domingos Costa (piano)Listen & Purchase CD or downloads
Includes: Drang, Fado, inwards, transfiguration, Transient,
John Palmer presents an album of new compositions exploring the process of breath and breathing. Each instrument, whether bass flute, accordion, voice, trombone, is pushed to the limit of its capabilities, while blending in seamlessly with its electronic counterpart, in order to express the humanity and spirituality of breath. He has created an extraordinarily varied, colourful and sensitive world which invites and rewards our deep listening. Recorded in Stuttgart and St Petersbourg, the compositions feature virtuoso instrumentalists Antje Langkafel (bass flute on inwards), Sergej Tchirkov (accordion on Drang), Lydia Kucht (soprano on transient), Yseult Jost and Domingos Costa (piano on fado) and Slovenian trombonist extraordinaire Vinko Globokar (transfiguration) whose theatrical performances are legendary. Here, Palmer creates the perfect vehicle for Globokar’s eccentricity and humour, while tackling the sombre subject of the Balkan conflict. Drang is a unique tour-de-force for Tchirkov’s accordion which literally comes alive by emulating human breathing using the air sounds from within the instrument.
John Palmer: electronics, Antje Langkafel (bass flute), Sergej Tchirkov (accordion), Lydia Kucht (soprano), Vinko Globokar (trombone), Yseult Jost and Domingos Costa (piano).
Recorded at Vision Studio (Stuttgart), Max Shagaev’s studio (St. Petersburg), Electronic Studio of the Technical University (Berlin). Audio Engineering: John Palmer, Max Shagaev, Folkmar Hein. Produced by John Palmer at Vision Studio.
1. inwards (14:52)
for bass flute and electronics
2. Drang (9:43)
3. transient (9:10)
for soprano, piano and electronics
4. transfiguration (16:50)
for trombone and electronics
3. fado (10:57)
for 4-hands piano
One thing that is striking about the music on this CD is its great dynamic range. John Palmer makes us listen intently to the quietest nuance, the smallest gesture, but then sometimes dramatically its mirror, striking us directly with a much more elaborated and extended response. Schoenberg described Webern’s music as being like extending ‘a sigh into a novel’ or expressing ‘a joy in a breath’. So here the theme of the breath is both literally in sound and more remotely as the great fundamental mechanism that brought speech and song – effectively music – into existence. The bass flute in inwards starts the journey at its roots, focused and centred, yet growing – or perhaps floating – outwards and upwards. To find an accordion piece following may be a surprise – this is a kind of mechanical lung but one which can move much faster when asked to do so. Drang shows this drama at its most virtuosic and dynamic – an extraordinary tour de force where a complex conversation takes place at breakneck speed. The listener is quite out of breath by its conclusion. Transient returns us to a more meditative world, a kind of requiem where breath is emblematic of life itself. Our fear of its absence may lie behind cries of agony or despair which articulate mourning in many cultures. Transfiguration harnesses the breathing and talking trombone of Vinko Globokar in an extraordinary canvas. It moves from concrete representation to sound-based abstraction in a kind of cinematic fusion. Language disintegrates, yet expression is always present, reassembled from the pieces. Portuguese fado, too, shouts real human defiance from the depths of the soul (and the lungs) in the face of a sometimes impossible destiny. Fado, the final work on this CD, does not try to imitate but to meditate on some of its melancholy. The piano is finally infused with the breath of the human performer. For the works on this CD Palmer takes his inspiration – in all senses! – from the breath. He has created an extraordinarily varied, colourful and sensitive world which invites and rewards our deep listening.
Simon Emmerson, London, September 2008
Es wahr ein langer Weg – von experimentellem Jazz bis zu elektroakustischen Kompositionen heute. Eins aber zieht sich bei John Palmer durch: Er schreibt interkulturelle, spirituell grundierte Klangfarbenmusik, die eigenwillig und kantig geblieben ist.
Neue Musikzeitung, Germany, 2009
It has been a long pathway – from experimental jazz through to electroacoustic compositions today. However, one thing is certain: John Palmer is still writing intercultural and spiritually-driven timbral music that has remained willful and edged.
Neue Musikzeitung, Germany, 2009. (Translation: Paul Hodson)
John Palmer’s compositions are based on breath as heard through the bass flute, accordion, voice, and trombone. The instruments are extended to the limits of their capabilities and they all blend perfectly with Palmer’s sensitive electronics. To quote Simon Emmerson, referring to Palmer in his introductory notes: “He has created an extraordinarily varied, colourful and sensitive world which invites and rewards our deep listening.” The performers are Antje Langkafel (bass flute), Sergej Tchirkov (accordion), Lydia Kucht (soprano), Yseult Jost and Domingos Costa (piano), and Vinko Globokar (trombone). And their performances are often incredible, as in Globokar’s eccentricity and humor while tackling the sombre subject of the Balkan conflict, and Tchirkov’s accordion which seems to come alive by emulating human breathing using the air sounds from within the instrument.
CDE music, New York