Claire M Singer – Fairge [Touch # Tone 59]
CDEP – 1 track – 20:55
Limited edition in CD wallet
Written & performed by Claire M Singer
Mastered by Denis Blackham @ Skye
Photography & design by Jon Wozencroft
Recorded by Clare Gallagher at Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, 12th June 2017 on the transept organ built by Ahrend & Brunzema (1965). ‘Fairge’ was commissioned by Oude Kerk for ‘Silence’, a concert series curated by Jacob Lekkerkerker.
Following 16 months after Scottish artist Claire M Singer’s debut album comes the release of the beautiful and intriguing ‘Fairge’, meaning ‘the ocean’ or ‘the sea’ in Scottish Gaelic. ‘Fairge’ is a single 21-minute piece for organ, cello and electronics, composed, performed and produced by Claire and is very much a companion work to the title track on her debut album ‘Solas’ (Touch, 2016).
Commissioned by Amsterdam’s oldest building and parish church Oude Kerk, ‘Fairge’ premiered at the church in February 2017. Claire M Singer’s performance on the Ahrend and Bunzema organ, cello and electronics is truly captivating. The work very much encapsulates her signature style of expansive soundscapes full of intricate textures, rich overtones and powerful swells, emotionally resonating from beginning to end.
‘Fairge’ was written specifically for the Ahered and Bunzema organ and explores the precise control of wind through the pipes using mechanical stop action. This creates a lush harmonic backdrop against the harmonics and melody of the haunting cello.
“Oude Kerk were very generous in letting me have time to explore and really get to know the instrument. The work was developed over many visits sitting in the church until the very wee hours over the winter months, which was incredibly magical and inspiring. When working with mechanical stops and precisely controlling the amount of air that passes through the pipes it requires a lot of practice and exploration to learn each incremental sound the organ can make and what the quirks of the instrument can be. As every organ is unique, the piece will differ on other organs but that’s what makes writing and working with the organ so fascinating. The tuning is mean-tone temperament, which I have not worked with previously. With ‘Fairge’ I really wanted to show how special this relatively small organ is and the beautiful pallet of sound it can produce.” [Claire M Singer, September 2017]
Claire M Singer’s performance is truly captivating, with her signature style of intricate textures, rich overtones and powerful swells, emotionally resonating throughout.
She is playing two special dates supporting the band Low at Union Chapel, London on the 14th October and at Westerkerk in Amsterdam on the 16th October.
The work of Claire M Singer has been widely commissioned, exhibited and performed throughout Europe and North America. This includes acoustic and electronic composition, fixed media, multi-media, installations and live electronics.
Performances and commissions include Tate Modern London; Glasgow Cathedral; Chez Poulet Gallery San Francisco; XMV New York City; Fylkingen Institute Stockholm; Ceremony Hall Austin; Kunst-Station Sankt Peter Cologne; Muziekgebouw Aan’ t ij Amsterdam and the Barbican supporting Stars of the Lid.
Claire is also Music Director of the organ at Union Chapel and Artistic Director of the Organ Reframed festival.
In June 2017 she was a recipient of the inaugural Oram Awards from the PRS Foundation and New BBC Radiophonic Workshop for her innovation in sound and music.
Claire M Singer reveals that the ocean is present within Fairge. The title comes from the Scottish Gaelic word for “the sea” or “the ocean”. Water ripples across the album cover. And with that, I am swept into thoughts of the water as her music gathers from layers of cello, organ and electronics. Those held organ chords trace the horizon line, shimmering as moonlight skates across it. Overtones bulge and recede like those tiny, transient waves that bring the entire surface into motion, fleeting to the point of illusory. And then, less materially, I feel the optimism of peering into the void, facing away from the frank and firm surfaces of terrestrial concern, absorbing a view whose flux is a rich, ever-renewing state of possibility, mesmeric for its absence of endings and limits. Fairge is, after all, seemingly edgeless. Stereo space is not the breadth to which sound must abide but the mere brink of what my ears can perceive, and I imagine these drones to stretch far beyond what can be fathomed by the context of recorded audio.
And so as Fairge rouses itself unevenly – upon wavering, almost discordant clouds of breath and shrill whistle – I take it that it is me, the listener, who is the cause of this bleary beginning, my hearing still soft and distant as I awake. The chords deepen. The detail starts to crystallise. Pitches begin to stabilise. Fairge becomes less a cluster of unsympathetic hums, and more a single organism surging back and forth as a coherent whole as my mind starts to perceive it as such: the surface bristling with small cyclical movements, the low frequency depths surging between greater tidal changes. The longer I listen, the more I start to imagine the presence of voices within the flow, peripheral perception teased by those little quivers of water. And while the piece might technically be a mere 20 minutes long, it ultimately rolls out across eternity. Like a stretched out pop song, each chord is pitched as a heartfelt beckoning of the next, gifted movement from the interplay between longing and fulfilment. Again, the conclusion of Fairge is rather a symbol of my departure. The ocean melts as my senses slip toward slumber; still present, but silent. It will still be there when I return.
Con i suoi trentacinque anni di storia, Touch è sempre stato e ancora rimane uno dei principali avamposti per la scoperta di nuovi talenti della musica sperimentale e della sound art. Solo nel 2016 l’etichetta londinese ha dato alle stampe gli esordi su disco di due giovani compositrici emergenti della scena britannica: Bethan Kellough (“Aven”, Tone 54) e Claire M Singer (“Solas”, TO:101), entrambe interessate a favorire un dialogo spontaneo tra ambient/drone e neoclassicismo.
Il nuovo live in edizione limitata di quest’ultima, capitolo afferente alla serie Tone, è stato commissionato e registrato presso la chiesa parrocchiale Oude Kerk, ad Amsterdam, nel febbraio del 2017. “Fairge”, termine del gaelico scozzese che indica il mare o l’oceano, è un breve quanto efficace studio sul rapporto tra tono continuo e composizione melodica.
Diversi autori contemporanei si sono dedicati al disvelamento del potenziale poetico di elementi essenziali come bordoni e onde corte, da Matthew Earle al radicalismo di Michael Pisaro, sino alla recente e affascinante raccolta di Chiyoko Szlavnics su Another Timbre (“During A Lifetime”, 2017).
Prima ancora che l’interazione tra le due dimensioni sonore, Singer mette a frutto il loro contrasto netto: a tre minuti occupati da un lievissimo accumulo di linee statiche e convergenti, d’organo e di violoncello, segue una graduale moltiplicazione che sposta idealmente l’asse acustico centrale e lo propaga in ulteriori direzioni. Si genera così un equilibrio armonico tanto solido quanto aggraziato, un bilanciamento la cui esattezza risale agli albori della musica sacra, in cui l’intonazione di antifone e salmi già poggiava su un basso continuo, ma che si ricollega al presente in una distinta consonanza con le tessiture ambient degli Hammock e le sezioni d’archi dei Sigur Rós più estatici.
Ultimato in seguito a numerose visite in loco, oltre a rappresentare un lodevole esercizio di sintesi “Fairge” ispira la lieve commozione di una luce pura che riveste una parete altrimenti spoglia – suggestione che può addirittura prescindere dalla specificità della sede cultuale, tanta è la sua immediatezza. [Michele Palozzo]
Scottish contemporary composer Claire M Singer follows the patient beauty of her debut album, Solas, with this epic, nearly 21-minute single-track EP conceptualized around the Scottish Gaelic word for “ocean.”
Fairge continues Singer’s fascination with carefully textured drones and the gradual mutation and intensification of repetitive parts. With gripping deliberation, she thickens the organ-driven frequency spectrum with layers of electronics and cello over the piece’s majestic, undulating and swelling runtime. When a simple note-diving hook enters around the 11-minute mark, the sound has congealed so much that it’s hard to tell which instrument or combination is causing it, but the effect makes a most effective and chilling climax to the piece.
After this subtly roiled sonic ocean churns up those delicate whitecaps, the quelling comedown is long, soothing and rife with the attentively nurtured minute timbral warbles that make Singer’s music important to listen to on high end speakers. A compelling continuation of the instrumental conversation she started on Solas, Fairge is ample evidence that this compelling new voice in minimalist modern classical composition has a lot more to say.
Chain D.L.K. (USA):
Described as a companion piece to the title track from her debut album “Solas”, “Fairge” is one twenty-minute work commissioned and written primarily for the relatively small Ahered and Brunzema organ in Oude Kerk, Amsterdam’s oldest building. Long, sustained and mesmerising organ chords are decorated by the addition of modest and sympathetic cello and electronic layers to create a deceptively simple sonic carpet.
Occasional chord changes and a gradual sense of tonal shift that at times feels like a Shepard tone effect result in something that seems static at first, but which under the surface, is never standing still. A two-note pattern slowly reveals itself in the upper register that over time transforms into a plaintive unanswered call.
Seventeen minutes in, a gradual cessation begins in which the purest organ tones are slowly left alone in their own space, a fade which continues beyond our hearing into a final minute which is essentially silence.
Fairge is Gaelic for the ocean, and if this is an evocation of the sea, it’s a very calm, sedate and empty moonlit plateau.
It’s a bold and beautiful work that, on first listen, made me sign up to Singer’s mailing list with immediate effect, and want to check out “Solas” at the first opportunity.