by Frode Andersen
Few of us are aware how much we use our ears to orient ourselves in everyday life. Through sounds, our brain quickly forms an impression of the space or place in which we are moving, indoors as well as outside. We ‘know' that sounds are reflected quite -othe-r-wise in places surrounded by stone - brick churches or city spaces in concrete - than in buildings of wood, and the width, height and architectural shape too are signi-ficant. We can also tell where in the space the source of a sound is, and whether it is moving; and if it is, how quickly it is moving - an invaluable faculty to have in traffic for example. This capacity to sense a space with our hearing is the starting point for the present CD.
Løgumkloster Church in South Jutland is one of the most important church build-ings from the Middle Ages in Denmark, and was built as part of a large abbey complex for the Cistercian Order. This church has particularly strong acoustics, with high vault-ing, aisles and small spaces. EVA ØSTERGAARD has played many concerts there, and after one of them she had the idea of animating the space - making it into a living player in the experience of the music. She therefore asked a number of Danish compo-sers to compose music with this in mind - or should one rather say in the ear? - for this particular CD.
The wish to vitalize the space has meant that a range of unorthodox methods have been used to record this CD. Normally one would have found one place in the church interior where everything was recorded. But here constant variations were made in the distance from and positioning of the microphone and instrument, both in the main church interior and in the small passages and adjacent rooms - as well as outdoors.
At the same time Eva Østergaard's many flutes were recorded ‘layer on layer', often with different placings in the space. We can thus hear some flutes sounding far off, some close up, some in a compact, closed space, others high up in the vaults. This gives our ears an impression of a space - a space both physical and mental that is constantly changing and becoming a part of the music.
For some years the composer PETER BRUUN lived in the neighbouring city of Ribe and visited Løgumkloster many times. "There is a quite special atmosphere around the old abbey church in Løgumkloster. History is alive and present, and it's as if you can feel the life that was once there: the beautiful, impressive building speaks! The surroun-dings too have spiritual vibrations. I'm quite sure that since the dawn of time the sacred sites have been established at places where nature and the landscape already exude fertility, grandeur and gentleness," he says. On one occasion when he visited Løgum-kloster he heard the large carillon in the tower playing one of the old Danish hymns - "The loveliest rose has been found". The space of the landscape and the space of the church in Løgumkloster, the sound of the bells and the hymns, were the inspiration for three pieces for song, bells and the many flutes.
My Jewel, My Rose, My Honour is a set of variations on "The loveliest rose", which almost seems to start in the landscape around Løgumkloster, hear the bells and the melody and then move into the church. The Best New Year's Song too is a set of variations on a hymn - "God's goodness we shall praise now", while All that My Soul Will Hum is a composition based on the well known melody "Jesu deine tiefe Wunden". At the end one moves humming out into the landscape again, where the airy sound of the flute mixes with the wind and the song of the birds.
JEXPER HOLMEN'S Mrs. Schmidt is pretty much a song, apart from the fact that it is not performed by a singing voice, but by nine bass flutes placed at various points in relation to the microphone. The nine voices fuse together into one sound, which how-ever constantly changes character in shades of light and darkness. Mrs Schmidt is not a specific person but a representative of all of us, just as one might say Mrs. Smith in English.
In Deimos Jexper Holmen takes us out into a different space - outer space. Deimos is the name of the Greek god of terror, but also of a very small moon in orbit around the planet Mars. It moves around Mars almost at the same speed as the planet's own rotation, so viewed from the surface of Mars the moon would almost seem to stand still. And the music in Deimos is almost static too; it moves around and around in the same circular motion again and again - like a small moon in orbit around a planet.
From outer to inner space: Francis Sketched is inspired by Francis Bacon's famous painting Triptych. It is based on a long, whispering series of notes that slowly and patiently change. "I like to imagine that it is like taking these notes along on a walk," says TORBEN SNEKKE-STAD. Abstract Expressionism, Surrealist textures and rest-less reflections make up this piece, as if it were a "painting for the ear".
The producer of this CD, MORTEN OLSEN, is also a composer, and his The Dark Room is a remix of selected elements recorded for this CD. In fact this is more of a recomposition, or perhaps rather a kind of sound-collage, of pieces and fragments from the CD's other works. Here one can let one's ears go ‘re-exploring' among the sounds and tones of the CD, and experience how they are radically changed in sound and tone by being relocated in a different context and - as the title suggests - given a more sombre character.
Not far from Løgumkloster, twice a year, a strange natural phenomenon takes place, known by the name of ‘Black Sun'. In the marshland around Ribe huge numbers of starlings congregate, flying in great flocks across the sky - literally turning the sky black. And birds are in fact the key concept in THOMAS AGERFELDT OLESEN'S Stralsund. "In Stralsund I yielded to certain preconceptions about the flute," says Agerfeldt Olesen. "It's a bird fluttering around. Normally I would avoid that sort of thing, but I thought that in among the preconceptions there was a lot of valuable flotsam and jetsam that deserved to be looked at. Especially if you looked at it through the microscope. The introduction looks at the flight of the birds close up, so you can't see the flock of birds from a charming "National Geographic" perspective, only very close up as if you were a bird yourself. The flock spreads out as if in panic and each bird ends up on its own. In a spatial loneliness from which each bird hears the other birds spread to the four winds, in their own corners of a dizzyingly large landscape. I tried to get inside that loneliness and feel it as a human being, and then I gave in to the urge to unite the bird flock again in the end. Stralsund is a town in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern which may be the mighty landscape in which the scenario is played out. Perhaps the birds fly over the town at some point."
Frode Andersen trained as an accordionist. Alongside his work as a musician he has been active as an entrepreneur, administrator, writer and organizer on the Danish music scene.