The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Anna Murray'

10
Max Richter 'Infra'

Max Richter

A review of the album Infra by Max Richter

Review Snapshot: While not pushing the boat out too far with this piece, Max Richter, a composer famed for his work with such bands as Future Sounds of London, has constructed an evocative and sensitive piece filled with emotion and imagery.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:

It’s hard to avoid the first thought that enters the mind when listening to this track: films. But comparing this stand-alone studio album is not an insult. In fact the thought merely betrays its true nature: a ballet, conceived alongside choreography by Wayne McGregor and artist Julian Opie for the Royal Ballet. This music on this album is developed somewhat from the original opera, so that it stands alone and perfectly valid as a studio album in itself. Yet to immediately associate it with soundtracking is a testament to the strength of imagery and atmosphere with which the composer has imbued it, not a belittlement of it in itself. In fact, the rich evocativeness of Richter’s music has been recognised numerous times and has been featured in film scores, including that of last year’s ‘Waltz with Bashir’ documentary, or Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island’. Written for piano, string quartet and electronics, Infra is a refreshingly unembellished score, conjuring up impressions and atmospheres with apparently little effort.

Though the instrumental writing is not particularly groundbreaking or new – in fact, much of it smacks just a little too much of Glass and Nymen for comfort – Richter has clearly kept things simple for a reason. Neither is the source material of the electronic movements all that original or inspiring. Radio interference, intercepted signals, feedback and static are at this stage hackneyed ideas for electronic composition, but again Richter treats them with the same delicacy as the instruments. Found sounds from Schubert’s Winterreise make an exceptional addition to the electronic background, however, as a perfect example of mood, material and theme. Sparse textures, short beautiful motifs and an aching and unassuming sadness that (mostly) manages to stay clear of cliché are evidence of the piece’s original inspiration: T.S. Eliot’s the Wasteland. Similar to the poem, the piece is delicate, poised, outwardly calm, but hints at a roiling discomfort beneath.

By putting the instrumental and electronic parts together, Richter has created a duality that pervades the entire piece in different ways, not least in the structure of the piece itself. The work is divided into short movements named Infra 1-8 and Journey 1-5. While material is shared between the two, there are definite shifts in mood, for example the almost threatening dynamism of Journey 2 versus the calmness of Infra 1.The effect is like a juxtaposed 66e and Steve Reich, a marriage of classical techniques and contemporary aesthetics that makes for an interesting and evocative listen.

Anna Murray

Infra 1 by max richter


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27
The Ambience Affair
Give us a bit of background to The Ambience Affair to this point. We met two years ago in a music shop in Dublin. I had been playing solo for about a year previous to that.I felt there was a need ...

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22
Valerie Francis
CLUAS fires some questions at Valerie Francis, creator of Choice Music Prize nominated album Slow Dynamo. Tell us about the album - its conception, creation, response... Is there anything you'...

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22
The 2010 Choice Music Prize nominees

Choice Music Prize 2010Now in its fifth year, the Choice Music Prize is well established as a key milestone on the Irish music scene's calendar. The albums shortlisted for this year's prize represent a diverse and intriguing mix of Irish releases of the last year. The winner will be announced in Vicar Street on 3 March 2010 (8 of the 10 nominated acts are confirmed to play on the night).

Always going that extra 1609 metres for its readers, CLUAS prepared a set of questions for each act nominated for the 2009 award. We've so far gotten replies from 6 of the 10 acts, check out the links below to see what each act had to say:

The other artists nominated this year were:


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20
Dark Room Notes
CLUAS fires some questions at Darragh of Dark Room Notes, the creators of the Choice Music Prize nominated album We Love You Dark Matter. Tell us about the album - its conception, creation, respon...

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20
Adrian Crowley
CLUAS fires some questions at Adrian Crowley, creator of the Choice Music Prize nominated Season of the Sparks. Tell us about the album - its conception, creation, response... Is there anythi...

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20
Laura Izibor
One of the nominees for the 2010 Choice Music Prize CLUAS fires some questions at Laura Izibor, creator of Choice Music Prize nominated album Let The Truth Be Told. Tell us about the...

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13
The Duckworth Lewis Method
On their Choice Music Prize nominated album The Duckworth Lewis Method CLUAS fires some questions at The Duckworth Lewis Method, creators of Choice Music Prize nominated album The Duckwo...

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13
And So I Watch You From Afar
One of the nominees for the 2010 Choice Music Prize CLUAS fires a few questions at And So I Watch You From Afar, creators of the Choice Music Prize nominated album "And So I Watch You Fr...

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18
James Yorkston and the Big Eyes Family Players 'Folk Songs'

A review of the album Folk Songs by James Yorkston and the Big Eye Family Players

James Yorkston Folk Songs

Review Snapshot: An almost ideal combination of ye olde tunes with contemporary musical sensibilities, Yorkston and friends have created an album that is interesting and near irresistible.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
The title of this album is not only apt for its content, but also for its mood. Folk Songs, in title and nature, is simple, unassuming and charmingly frank. With eleven traditional tracks, it is an album of genuine grass-roots folk, marking it as occupying a different sphere to the Bob Dylans and modern folk artists. The question in listening to such as album is whether or not to hear it as part of, and on the same page as, the indie rock – or even folk rock – institution, or hear and value it as part of something separate, that of folk and traditional.

The answer lies somewhere in the middle: Yorkston and Green's arrangements of these songs give them both historical and contemporary relevance, and serve to create a overall exploration of the potential for the modernisation of traditional folk from beginning to end. In almost every instance Yorkston and co. retain the melody, rhythm, style, modality and even fal-do-ral refrains of the original, but place them in a new context through creative instrumentation, enveloping gentle tunes in an unexpectedly edgy environment.

Opener ‘Hills of Greenmoor' is an embodiment of uncomplicated and (semi-) authentic folk simplicity, with a simple guitar picking pattern creating the traditional drone and later doubling the melody, a low-key instrumental refrain, and minimal percussion. ‘Just as the Tide is Flowing' is even less dense, with only the guitar remaining, still providing a simple pattern and drone, while a female voice ornaments a gracefully nursery rhyme-like melody with a simple descant. The third track, a bard's tale of a girl disguising herself as a soldier, sees things pick up a little with the first instance of prominent percussion, and a certain extra life to the guitar drone and instrumental refrains. However, from here on is where the lines truly become blurred: ‘Mary Connaught and James O'Donnell' with its quick-moving harmony, quick marching drumbeat, lively guitar, subtle backing vocals and the addition of more low-mix, non-lead instruments betrays its origins as a tune newly-composed for a traditional lyric.

For the remainder we see modern values try to commandeer the album, usurping those of folk. A poacher's ballad is enveloped in a environment of soft rolling cymbals and toms, the strings echoing the voice in an arresting overall swell, culminating the totally unexpected entrance of string sounds creating an alien effect like distortion and feedback, adding a layer of unease. ‘I Went to Visit the Roses' – also a new air to an old lyric – shows a more subtle blend of instruments, even verging on riffing, while the minimalism of ‘Sovay', despite its unmistakable modal harmony, positions it closer to Mark Lanegan than trad.

James Yorkston, along with the Big Eyes Family Players, has not only tried to redefine folk for a modern audience, but the musician's and "songwriter's" role as the medium between history and listener, finding the perfect balance between retelling and interpreting, faithfulness and creativity.

Anna Murray


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Nuggets from our archive

2002 - Interview with Rodrigo y Gabriela, by Cormac Looney. As with Damien Rice's profile, this interview was published before Rodrigo y Gabriela's career took off overseas. It too continues to attract considerable visits every month to the article from Wikipedia.