LINDA BUCKLEY (b.1979): Ó Íochtar Mara (From Ocean’s Floor) (Iarla Ó’Lionáird [voice], Crash Ensemble), Fridur (Isabelle O’Connell. [piano]), Discordia (Joby Burgess [canna sonora]), Haza (ConTempo Quartet), Kyrie (Linda Buckley ([voice]), Exploding Stars (Darragh Morgan [violin]).
Catalogue Number: 10W065
Description: In all these pieces, Buckley explores and evokes a powerful sense of atmosphere, through the interaction of acoustic instruments and an ambient soundfield of slowly evolving electronic drones, chords or amorphous sound. There is some common ground with "ambient music" of the type pioneered by Brian Eno in the 1970s, particularly in the electronic textures, but Buckley's acoustic material forms more definite foreground shapes and convey a sense of dramatic narrative at odds with the intention of conventional ambient electronica. Ó Íochtar Mara (From Ocean’s Floor) sets texts from the 7th to the 20th century in the tradition of sean nós, the Irish ‘old style’ of elaborately ornamented solo singing, characterized by ornaments like groups of grace notes before sung syllables - for the voice of Iarla Ó Lionáird. Sustained electronic drones establish a resonant backdrop to modal quartet material and the melismatic vocal line. The music is redolent of lush, unspoiled landscapes shrouded in mist, ancient folklore, mysterious runes carved into standing stones, and half-forgotten tales. Fridur (the Icelandic word for ‘peace’) begins with very simple piano textures, surrounded by a halo of electronics, evoking a vast, featureless landscape of ice and stone. Gradually, however, we seem to move down through the frozen surface to the churning tectonic, magmatic motion beneath, in rumbling discords amplified by the electronics. Discordia was written for Joby Burgess' Canna Sonora, an instrument assembled from tuned, vertical aluminium rods played with rosin-impregnated gloves, which produces strange, otherworldly resonances that are hard to tell from the accompanying electronic drones. Beginning with ethereal, glassy tones, the work is soon disturbed by the intrusion of trite, repetitive synthesizer figures, suggesting a distantly remembered urban experience; mounting levels of distortion and discord over a threatening bass line, which eventually drown out the peaceful, meditative tones of the Canna Sonora reflect the composer's "dismay at the ugly populism of the general election that greeted her when she arrived in the USA in the autumn of 2016." Haza - Hungarian for "home" also has its origins in the composer’s time in New York, this time remembering Bartók's sad final years there. The quartet and electronic sounds blend to produce uniform harmonic fields, from which the acoustic instruments strain to break free, symbolizing assimilation and alienation simultaneously. Finally the quartet emerges from the stifling electronics and takes flight in decisive, transfigured gestures which evoke a rough-hewn, exuberant folkdance that seems to owe something to Hungary and Ireland. In Kyrie the composer’s voice is a component in a slowly undulating ocean of electronic sounds, a luminous thread amongst dark, shifting currents. Exploding Stars, in common with several of the other works here, begins in one place - here, the local perspective of the sound of the violin - and is then transported to somewhere completely different, the seething, turbulent heart of a star, as the violin is increasingly engulfed by electronic chaos. Linda Buckley (electronics).