With his impressive back catalogue, Monty Adkins has become one of my favourite artists (if youâ€™re not familiar with his work, donâ€™t forget checking out Four Shibusa, Rift Patterns, Borderlands and Unfurling Streams).
So itâ€™s great news when two new albums are released almost simultaneously:
The first of these two is Shadows And Reflections, released on the CrÃ³nica label in a cassette and download version.
(No CD version to my regret, since I think this album deserves a â€˜properâ€™ release with a better sound quality than the cassette tapes can offer. But, judging on their latest releases, tape is the medium of choice currently for CrÃ³nica.. Of course ordering the tape also includes a high-quality download too).
The album presents two 20 minute tracks (Sounds of the Shadow and Sounds of the Sun), built from organ samples performed and recorded by Monty Adkins. On first listen this could be classified as drone music, but in fact a lot is happening in the layering of the organ sounds, and the pieces build up to a climax in a way that defies the strict definition of â€˜droneâ€™. (Not that this matters in any way, though)
â€œIn the two parts of the work Adkins wanted to induce a sense of mediation, contemplation and reflection. He wanted the sound to be constantly, though in some instances imperceptibly, changing so that one remained mindful of the music rather than allowing it to drift in to the periphery of oneâ€™s consciousness. For Adkins, the focusing on a single organ timbre over an extended duration encourages a more attentive perception as the ear is drawn in to the micro-fluctuations within each of the extended phrases. Oneâ€™s sense of time is dilated and there is a sense of envelopment within the soundworld.â€
Thereâ€™s no mention of what organ is used for the recordings, but thereâ€™s a strong association with the timbres of a church organ. Which would be appropriate, because these pieces were created for a multimedia exhibition at the Bradford Cathedral to interact with fourteen paintings by Andy Fullalove (as well as with the light from the stained glass windows in the Cathedral). An example of Fullaloveâ€™s work can be seen on the album cover.
Listening to this music (with the acoustics of the large cathedral it was played in) while enjoying the interaction of the paintings with the ever changing light mustâ€™ve been a moving experience. When listening to it in your private surroundings, the visual part is missing of course. But itâ€™s still a moving experience anyway. Peter van Cooten