Spire - Organ Works, past, present and future

Touch # Tone 20

1st fruits of collaboration between Fennesz and Sparklehorse - recorded in Geneva by Christian Fennesz and Scott Minor * Touch regulars Biosphere, Philip Jeck, Benny Nilsen [Hazard], Chris Watson... * Newcomers include US free music composer and designer Tom Recchion, UK's Scott Taylor, Icelandic artists Finnbogi Petursson and Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, and one of Sweden's premier performance artists Leif Elggren [The Sons of God, Firework Edition Records etc.], and one of the Kings of Elgaland-Vargaland * UK finest organist Charles Matthews and classical composer Marcus Davidson * Highly regarded Japanese field recordist Toshiya Tsunoda

The story:

The thought of producing a compilation where the tracks were all either inspired by or more directly influenced by the organ had been frequently aired over the years. The conversations were always animated and expansive. The organ works of Arvo PSrt, those performed by Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, a pupil of Richard Rodney Bennett at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and others, have reached a wider non-classical audience. Eventually Benny Nilsen arranged to visit St. Mary's Church, Warwick and work with one of England's finest, Charles Matthews. Crawling around inside the instrument, positioning microphones most appropriately in the Church, or 'capturing' the psalms composed by Marcus Davidson, Nilsen explored the possibilities with all the familiar lust of the avant-garde. As the brief widened, so did the responses... some contributors referred to earlier versions of the organ and its often highly political usage, others explored aged instruments themselves. Some studied the effects of the sounds produced on the physique and the psyche, others conceptualised the brief and either built their own or recorded natural or man-made phenomena which utilised the same basic process, wind through pipes. The organ represents the marriage between acoustic complexity and ritualised space. It is impossible not to be drawn upward, towards the spire of the church or cathedral, or to the huge and daunting forest of pipes themselves. The organ dwarfs all comers, and unlike other instruments, it is this non-musical element which makes the organ stand apart.

Track Listing:

12 tracks - 52:10.21

1. Leif Elggren – Royal Organ
2. Z’EV – if only that love lets letting happen (organ music for organs)
3. Philip Jeck – Stops
4. Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson – Details of a New Discovery
5. Zephyr
6. Marcus Davidson – Organ Psalm V
7. Scott Minor/Fennesz - dwan
8. Finnbogi Pétursson – Diabolus
9. Biosphere – Visible Invisible
10. Toshiya Tsunoda – Layered
11. Tom Recchion – Shut-Eye Train
13. Lary Seven & Jeff Petersen - Disorganised

5 tracks - 53:55.54

Track listing:

1. BJNilsen - Breathe
2. Scott Taylor - Droner
3. Jacob Kirkegaard- Epiludio Patetico: a tribute to Rued Langgaard
4. Ambarchi/Recchion - Triste Remake
5. Chris Watson - Askam Wind Cluster

Spire Live in Geneva Cathedral St Pierre

Touch # Tone 21

St. Pierre Cathedral, Geneva, was the crucible of the Reformation in 1534…

The second release in the Spire series [cf Spire, organ works past, present & future, Touch # Tone 20, 2004] is more than a document of ‘Spire Live’, which took place as part of La Batie 2004, at St. Pierre Cathedral, Geneva, on 5th September 2004. Curated by Eric Linder, from La Batie, and Mike Harding, the dynamism of the event, where the audience rotated between 3 separate venues within the Cathedral precinct, is reflected in the individual recordings: Philip Jeck goes heavy metal in the crypt: BJNilsen comes over all moody in the side chapel, and Fennesz soothes and seduces in the same place.

All this is set up by Charles Matthews and Marcus Davidson on the main organ [4 manifolds, computer operated] which dominates the time and place. Davidson plays Gorécki's extraordinary Kantata for organ, [full stops on max employed here] which segués into BJNilsen's ultra-heavy live organ and electronics next door. This follows Charles Matthews's excellent renditions of pieces by Jolivet and Alexandra which, as the text by Thierry Charollais says: "The event seemed provoking and iconoclastic in contrast to the severe and austere atmosphere of the cathedral. Though some of the musical pieces were audacious, the music focused mainly on spirituality. It generated a different perception of the organ pieces, thus modifying our perception of the cathedral and making the event truly exceptional."

And to finish, Fennesz soothed us with sound. His set evoked the rolling centuries in all their pain and beauty, leaving us at once becalmed and energised, but never oppressed under the weight of time.

Track Listing:

CDOne 76:04

On the main organ in the cathedral: Charles Matthews plays tracks 1-4:

1. Marcus Davidson - Opposites Attract [10:05]

2. Marcus Davidson - Psalm for Organ 3 [1:24]

3. André Jolivet - Hymne à l'Universe [11:58]

4. Liana Alexandra - Consonances lll [6:52]

Marcus Davidson plays track 5:

5. Henryk Gorécki – Kantata for organ op. 26 [15:42]

In the side chapel: 6. BJNilsen - Live in La Petite Chapelle [29:59]

CDTwo 69:06

In the crypt: Philip Jeck - Live in the Crypt [44:14]

In the side chapel: Fennesz - Live in La Petite Chapelle [24:49]