The new recording from percussionist Joby Burgess includes ambient electronics fused with mellow vibraphone, explosive cinematic drumming and the delicate muted sounds of 1960’s New York.
Psappha Iannis Xenakis
Psappha is an archaic form of Sappho – a great Greek poetess from the Island of Lesbos, born in the 600’s BC. Composed for six groups of instruments (of wood, skin and metal) Psappha is muscular, abrasive and often violent – an intensely masculine work in contradiction to its title. The inspiration comes from Sappho’s poetry, whose rhythms appear constantly in both small cells and the large scale over arching structure. Instrument choice is left to the performer, Xenakis writes ‘timbre serves only to clarify the rhythmic structures’ – my performance seeks maximum range and colour, with a nod to touring practicalities.
Ekstasis Linda Buckley
A ‘leading figure in the younger generation of Irish composers’ Linda Buckley combines medieval harmony, ambient electronic music and the hypnotic atmosphere of Javanese Gamelan in her commission for Pioneers of Percussion. Referring to the Greek term for ‘trance, to stand outside oneself, rapture’ Ekstasis is composed for vibraphone, Thai gongs and electronics. Premiered by Joby Burgess in 2016, Ekstasis was commissioned using funds from Arts Council England.
The late musicologist Bob Gilmore writes: ‘Buckley engages with an area of experience that new music is generally shy of, which, simplified and reduced to a single word, I’d call ecstacy. Not the drug-induced euphoria of dance music, but exultant, heightened states of being that are the product of an excitable sensibility, of an emotional response to the world that sees the bright places of life as clearly as the dark.’
The King of Denmark Morton Feldman
Feldman’s reply to Stockhausen’s Zyklus is the great early anti-percussion composition, where a collection of soft sounds, twinkle like stars in the night. In The King sounds move without weight as dust through a gentle breeze, to create a deep seemingly disconnected sonic canvas. Feldman captured the muted soundscape of New York from Coney Island on a summer afternoon in 1964.