|Terumi Narushima, Kraig Grady, Clocks and Clouds|
photo Corrie Ancone
Drawing upon sources as diverse as Harry Partch's 1973 work US Highball as well as his identification with the meta-culture of Anaphoria (a conceptual landmass whose inhabitants' key characteristic is a "desire to be foreigners"), composer and general C&C head honcho Kraig Grady's work, Terrains, Winds and Currents, provided an absorbing listen.
The centrepiece of the work was the set of twelve Meru Bars, an instrument of Grady's own creation, that rose like mesas behind a harmonium and pair of vibraphones, all microtonally tuned. The Meru, which is fundamentally a set of gigantic bass vibraphone bars, lent the work a gripping solemnity, the hour-long through-composed piece remaining mesmerising for its duration, due in no small part to the skill with which it was approached by Grady as well as Terumi Narushima behind the harmonium and Finn Ryan on vibraphone.
With Narushima establishing a drone on the harmonium, Ryan trod carefully amid the Meru, striking each note with precise reverence, a liturgical quality being compounded by a single bowed note on the vibes. The sound of the Meru seemed to emanate from deep within the earth, its blended resonances suggesting imaginary ceremonies unfolding in forgotten caves. When this opening 'terrain' section closed with the exit of the Meru from the texture, the remaining instruments seemed bereft without its subterranean heat.
|Meru bars, Clocks and Clouds|
photo Gail Priest
All of which would be so much twaddle were it not for the extreme discipline that Grady, Ryan and Narushima brought to the material, seamlessly coaxing distinct shifts in texture from the preceding flux. None more effective than the return of the Meru, the roiling bouyancy of the previous section giving way to a solemnity worthy of the disappearance of species, static vibe chords reverberating in isolation over the terrestrial groan of the bass bars. This was an hypnotic and moving song for the earth.
Aurora Festival of Living Music: Clocks and Clouds, Kraig Grady, Terumi Narushima, Finn Ryan, Casula Powerhouse, Sydney, May 5; www.auroranewmusic.com.au/
Oliver Downes is a freelance writer based near Sydney. He is a trained pianist whose interests include music, literature and film. He has recently completed a Masters of Creative Writing through the University of Sydney.
RealTime issue #109 June-July 2012 pg. web
© Oliver Downes; for permission to reproduce apply to firstname.lastname@example.org