the script of storms

the script of stormsthe script of storms is a new record of music by Michael Hersch.  It contains two pieces; each just under thirty minutes long.  The first, cortex and ankle, sets fragments of poems by Christopher Middleton.  The general theme is death and decay so it’s not exactly cheerful.  It was written for the Klang Ensemble and is scored for their combination of saxophones, trombone, keyboards, percussion, guitar and electronics plus soprano; in this case Ah Young Hong.  The vocal line is mostly high sustained notes sung with little or no vibrato though at times it becomes speech or near speech.  The accompaniment varies from extremely sparse; just the occasional note from the piano, to quite dense and sometimes abrasive and dissonant.  The overall effect is quite disturbing.  The recording was made in the Jurrianse Zaal (Rotterdam) in 2016.

The second piece; the script of storms, is possibly even more disturbing.  It sets English translations of poems by Iraqi poet and artist Fawzi Karim.  Since his earliest memories are of the mob dragging burned bits of prime minister through the streets during the 1958 revolution you can imagine how disturbing some of the imagery is here.  Once again the singer is Ah Young Hong and the vocal style is similar to the first piece with the addition of something close to shouting.  Accompaniment here is the BBC Philharmonic with Tito Muñoz conducting.  The full orchestra provides dark, busy and brooding textures and is sometimes very dissonant indeed.  This recording was made at Studio 1 at BBC Maida Vale in 2020.

The recordings are quite dramatic and are available (digital only) in MP3 and FLAC (hi-res and CD quality) formats.  The accompanying booklet has full texts and a wealth of information on the music and the participants.

This record is not an easy listen but it does contain some interesting, if highly disturbing, music in very committed performances.

Catalogue number: New Focus Records FCR344

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