Claire M Singer

TO:121 Claire M Singer – ‘Saor’

Artist: Claire M Singer
Title: Saor
Formats: CD & Digital Download
Catalogue Number: TO:121
Street date: 3rd November, 2023

You can order this CD album from 6th October 2023, here

Track Listing:

1. Cairn Toul
2. Pressure
3. Càrn
4. Outside
5. Forrig
6. Stops
7. Braeriach
8. Above and Below
9. Saor

Written and performed by Claire M Singer

Mastered by Denis Blackham
Artwork by Jon Wozencroft
Photography by Ash Todd (front and inside) and Seàn Antleys (back)
Published by Touch Music/Fairwood Music (UK) Ltd.

Claire M Singer has announced details of the first release in a triptych of albums. Saor [pronounced Sieur: meaning ‘free’ in Scottish Gaelic] perfectly encapsulates Claire’s experimental approach to the pipe organ, exploring rich harmonic textures and complex overtones which create ever-shifting melodic and rhythmic patterns, conjuring visions of the Scottish dramatic landscapes which inspire her. It’s her 3rd album for Touch, after ‘Fairge’ [2019] and ‘Solas’ [2016].

Saor follows two narratives: my trekking across the Cairngorm mountains in Aberdeenshire through the granite plateaux, corries, glens and straths, and my exploration of the 1872 organ built by Peter Conacher & Coy, Huddersfield in Forgue Kirk, Aberdeenshire where many of my ancestors lie.”

Tracks that are directly influenced by the Munros of Scotland, such as ‘Cairn Toul’ and ‘Braeriach’, are both majestic and sublime in their scope, sitting alongside interludes that more generally allude to the instrument: ‘Stops’, ‘Pressure’, ‘Above and Below’.

When writing her first organ commission in 2006 Claire approached the instrument as a sound source rather than how it is conventionally played. She has never had a lesson in her life and developed her own way of playing, including using straws or chopsticks to hold down the keys so she can manipulate the wind through the stops. About 90% of her sound, she says, involves her having one hand or two on the stops – having a full physical relationship with the instrument, continuously tweaking and exploring the mechanical stop action as she progresses her melodies.

Much of the album was written or recorded in Claire’s home county, at Forgue Kirk in Aberdeenshire. A church she hadn’t discovered before, in a remote spot, up a slight hill near a small cluster of houses. A friend recommended the organ to her and she later found out from her mother that many of her ancestors were buried there. “I had this weird stars aligning moment – during my residency at Forgue I spotted a gravestone propped up in the pews which was being restored, and it was Peter Forsyth, one of my relatives.”

Across the album, tracks flutter, pulse and build into and imposing mass. Some suggest texture and weather, using electronic processing and distortion. Others rely on the organ itself for heady atmospheres, while Saor’s title track goes even further; recorded at Orgelpark, Amsterdam, an international concert hall for organists, it uses five instruments in layers that span four centuries. Claire also plays cello, mellotron and harmonium on the album, and there are contributions from strings (Patsy Reid), trumpet (Brian Shook), clarinets (Yann Ghiro) and French horn (Andy Saunders).

Saor is an adventure bringing the same sense of elation as the journeys Claire made on foot to the summit. “When I’m alone at the top of a Munro, I feel completely free. It’s the most exhilarating feeling to be up there with nature looking at this vast landscape. I hope Saor conveys how that feels, and carries people with those feelings.”

Saor is generously supported by Arts Council England, PRS Foundation’s Composers’ Fund in partnership with Jerwood Arts, the Friends of Forgue Kirk, the Richard Thomas Foundation and Orgelpark, Amsterdam.


A feature in The Drouth here (by Neil Cooper)

Boomkat (UK):

Singer knows her way around a pipe organ better than most. Not only is she Music Director of the organ at London’s Union Chapel, she runs the UK’s only organ festival, Organ Reframed, and has been writing for the instrument for over a decade. Saor (meaning ‘free’ in Scottish Gaelic) is her second proper album for Touch, and is a triumph of not only technique but composition. In her hands, the pipe organ is expressive, not just an aesthetic pointer to our liturgical past, and she layers harmonies that charm and bewilder as they slowly evolve. This isn’t a loose set of dirges, it’s a deftly balanced, deceptively complex symphony that uses the inherent power and spiritual theater of the instrument to evoke pure emotion.

Singer was motivated by two particular themes: her walks in Aberdeenshire’s Cairngorms, and her experience getting acquainted with the 1872 Conacher organ, an instrument that arrived in Forgue Kirk, where many of her ancestors are buried, shortly after the Church of Scotland allowed it to be used again after over 300 years. This personal resonance is apparent on the album’s opener ‘Cairn Toul’, a weighty composition that starts by establishing the tonal quality – wavering, ghosted drones – before adding thematic heft.

Unashamedly grandiose, it’s music that captures both the imposing, mountainous landscape and the solemn mass of history, sounding contemporary in its approach but aware of its historical function. She helps set the scene with short skits, recording the environmental creaks, clanks and hisses that help us lock into her location. They make the longer, more lushly crafted pieces sing louder and more clearly, so when we hear ‘Forrig’ after the brief ‘Outside’, a quick chirp from the surrounding natural world, it sounds all the more angelic.

And on ‘Above and Below’, Singer adds stubbly, distorted textures and rhythms, bending her organ sounds underneath woody clatters and blown-out hits. The centerpiece is the title track though, an almost 25-minute hum that cleverly only implies its magnificence. Singer waits a good 13 minutes before slipping from cautious drones into dense, powerful motifs, and when the drop comes, it’s like a message straight from the heavens. You can almost touch the fog.

and in The List here

Composer Claire M Singer takes a somewhat unconventional approach to playing the organ. She tells us how the Scottish mountains have influenced her musical style and fed directly into a new album

Foxy Digitalis (USA):

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Das Filter (Germany):

Saor is my album of the year. It moves me like nothing else has taken me in the last twelve months. The elongated build-ups, the sheer power and power of the through-composed drones that develop step by step and chord by chord lay a cloak of silence over everything with beats. Saor is an anthemic superlative of euphoric restraint. The way the musician combines her organ playing with mellotron, trumpet, cello, clarinet and electronics is absolutely masterful. Sometimes bright and radiant, sometimes dark and threatening, sometimes deliberately noisy. Saor is a chamber liberation move.. [Thaddeus Herrmann]

Amazon (UK):

One could use a myriad of adjectives to describe Saor or to be more precise one could try ones upmost to describe ones listening experience of Saor…but I feel it would be like trying to describe or intellectualize ones listening experience …the pleasure of that listening experience. However, I could say, there are some pieces on this album that almost brought tears to my eyes, that I felt an overwhelming sense of beauty, at times I felt as though I was immersed in light, then slowly unearthed from that experience or sensation …I could say Saor is like a composition of arresting music, the notation of an interior voyage or I could simply say this album is beautiful, very beautiful …just sit down by yourself and listen to it! [Jamil Ahmad]

No. 1 in iTunes

Groove (Germany):

1767, 1872, 1877, 1922, 1925, 2009, 2018: Das sind die Baujahre der Orgeln, mit denen die schottische Komponistin Claire M Singer ihr Album Saor aufgenommen hat – ein zeitlicher Bogen, den der Techno einfach nicht schafft. Singer hingegen schafft auf ihrer fünften Veröffentlichung (wenn wir alles mitrechnen) einiges, wenn nicht sogar alles.

Saor bedeutet so viel wie „frei”, und um Himmels willen setzt Singer mit ihren dronigen Entwürfen die Segel für die Überfahrt gen Freiheit! Die Musikerin schichtet Harmonien und Strukturen so reduziert-mitreißend, wie es Jóhann Jóhannsson nur selten gelang, selbst vor seiner Hollywoodisierung. Mit einem Wechselspiel zwischen Hell und Dunkel, Episch und Bedrohlich, Leise und Laut zersägt Singer auch die letzten morschen Planken der hölzernen Achterbahn mit Endlos-Loop. Das ist deep und in höchstem Maße emotional, dabei aber nie anbiedernd oder banal, sondern zeitgenössische Stringenz im Dienste eines Flows, der das Versinken in den eigenen Gedanken zum Kategorischen Imperativ macht. Ich habe mein Testament geändert. In der Trauerhalle wünsche ich mir „Forrig” auf voller Lautstärke, zweimal hintereinander.

Boomkat (UK):

further (UK):

Influenced by trekking through the Cairngorm region of northern Scotland and an 1872 pipe organ installed in a church in Forgue, Aberdeenshire, Saor finds Claire M Singer reflecting on the topography of her homeland, as well as ruminating on existence itself. Many of Singer’s ancestors are buried at the church in Forgue, and the vast Cairngorms expanse would be largely unaltered from when they were alive. That gives these pieces the notion of things staying the same, but at the same time always changing. This is expressed in beautiful, thought-provoking pieces like ‘Cairn Toul’, through long, unmoving held notes on the organ over which more fluid moments are laid. The album’s 25-minute title track is nothing short of mesmerising, its organ drones rising gracefully like one of the mountains and plateauing with hopeful, joyous interventions. Singer is currently raising funds to help the restoration of the Henry Willis organ in the Union Chapel In Islington, which is featured on Saor – to donate, go here. Thanks to Mike and Zoe. 

TO:121VS Claire M Singer – ‘Forrig’

Promo video single – 1 track – 8:55

Track listing:

1. Forrig

Recorded at Union Chapel, London 12th December 2020 on the organ built by Father Henry Willis 1877. You can watch it on Youtube here.

Directed and filmed by Jay Richardson

Written and performed by Claire M Singer
Published by Touch Music/Fairwood Music UK Ltd
Mastered by Denis Blackham

TO:111V Claire M Singer – ‘Trian’

The double vinyl edition is now available to order

Trian by Claire M Singer

Sides 1 to 3: Solas

Solas and Wrangham were recorded by Iain Berryman at Union Chapel, London, 26-27th February 2016 on the organ built by Henry Willis in 1877
Mixed at Bennachie Studios, Aberdeen and EMS Goldsmiths, London

Violin extracts on Eilean from ‘Land of the Standing Stones’ composed and performed by Paul Anderson
Eilean was commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council

Special thanks to Union Chapel, University of Aberdeen and Goldsmiths College

Side 4: Fairge

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
Special thanks to Jacob Lekkerkerker and all at Oude Kerk

All tracks written & performed by Claire M Singer
Mastered by Denis Blackham @ Skye
Cut by Jason @ Transition April 2018
Artwork & photography by Jon Wozencroft


My AweSOMe Guest List – 2019’s Best Albums: Anthéne
Toronto-based artist 2019’s best albums

‘A collection of her ‘Solas’ album and ‘Fairge’ EP released as 2 LP’s. I loved both releases when they initially came out and was really happy to see Touch release them together on LP. Lovely organ and string works’.

Spire 7 – The Eternal Chord ‘Semper Liber’

CD – 4 tracks – 78:40
Limited edition of 500

Track listing:

1.  Aeternus
2.  Perpetuum
3.  Immortalis
4.  Semper Liber

Semper Liber consists of a series of duets featuring Marcus Davidson, Hildur Gudnadottir, Mike Harding, Charles Matthews, Clare M Singer, Maia Urstad and Anna von Hausswolff and are drawn from recordings made at Spire events since 2009. Mixed by its curator, Mike Harding, at the Völlhaus, and mastered by Mark Van Hoen, this powerful 4 track collection – to be played as one piece – explores the sonics of the mighty organ in all its thundering glory. 


Performed on the 1893 Schlag & Söhne organ at Johanneskirken, Bergen; the 1967 Karl Ludwig Schuke organ at Passionskirche, Berlin; the Peter Bares organ, inaugurated in 2004, at Kunststation St Peter, Cologne; the 1885 ‘Father’ Henry Willis organ at Lincoln Cathedral; the 1877 ‘Father’ Henry Willis organ at Union Chapel, London; the Rieger organ at St. Stephan’s Church, Mautern & the 1897 Johnson & Son organ at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Riga between 2009 and 2016.

The 4 colour plates by the art historian and author Sydney Russell show cave art from 4 to 6 thousand years ago. Taken in Brazil on one of several expeditions she made around the world, these highly emotional works reveal the sophistication and ageless quality of the imagination of the peoples who were expressing themselves at this time; they have been slow to reveal their beauty to us, having survived all weathers; their acoustic soundtrack unfolds slowly, submersive and involving.

Sydney Russell writes: ‘These photographs were taken in 1976 in Brazil. We eventually obtained minimum radio carbon datings for levels covering the paintings from approximately 3750-2500 BCE. They originate from the rock shelter sites of Sucupira, (Lagoa Santa) and Lapa do Cipo (Santana do Riacho), near Minas Gerais and Quadrillas (Montalvania), Bahia. Please refer to the website for more information.’

Mixed at the Völlhaus
Mastered by Mark Van Hoen
Photography by Sydney Russell
Artwork by Philip Marshall


weblog (UK):

Spire is a long-running flexible pool of musicians and sound artists who explore the capabilities of church organs in a non-traditional way. This 79-minute CD comprises four long pieces where different sustained notes, chords or note clusters are sounded simultaneously and gather momentum as drifting strata. Novel secondary patterns emerge and sparkly, shimmery, whining tones weave threads of fabric in and around sheets of deep pitched drones. It’s weighty though not asphyxiating.

Back in 1998 the cult electronic trio Coil achieved similar results on their 73-minute four part ‘Time Machines’ using analogue synthesisers. Whereas Coil attempted to suspend listeners’ sensation of time, Semper liber with its cover image of 5,000 year-old cave art, marvels at the immensity of historical time and the mystery of time itself.

Coincidently, US philosopher Robert Crease writes bravely on page 18 in this month’s Physics World, (a UK Institute of Physics publication) that:–

‘you can’t explain time by putting physicists in charge of what time really is’. Here, he is calling for scholars of humanities to ramp up their voices on matters where scientists appear to have the upper hand. Perhaps sound artists should ramp up their voices too? [AH]

Ambientblog (Belgium):

The church organ, the most majestic of keyboard instruments and the instrument with ‘the greatest frequency range of any acoustic instrument’ has recently gained some extra (and deserved) attention in experimental and drone music. Detached from its usual association with classical and/or devotional music the instrument opens up a completely new sonic world.

‘There is no ‘correct’ way to play the organ. Of course, there are strong and long traditions of how it should be played and by whom, but in the realm of time these strictures count for nothing.’ Unlike many other instruments/performances, the sound of a church organ opens up a unique world, too: the characteristics of the organ strongly depend on the skill of its builders ánd on the acoustic properties of its location.

Semper Liber, (‘always free’) is a very special project dedicated to the sound of the church organ – ‘the Emperor of Instruments’.

‘The Eternal Chord’ is a series of live concerts that grew out of the Spire Project, based on an idea by Mike Harding who was fascinated by this instrument but also was frustrated that during church services the ‘the organ players clearly never pushed the instrument to its limits.’

Ever since 2009, various duo’s have performed on different locations: Hildur Gudnadottir, Claire M. Singer, Anna Von Hausswolff, Marcus Davidson, Mike Harding, Charles Matthews and Maia Ustad. Some of the recordings of their explorations / performances can be found on the Eternal Chord Live page, or on this Bandcamp page.

Semper Liber, however, is not simply a performance recording. Mike Harding has drawn material from the different recordings and mixed them into four long tracks that are meant to be played as one continuing piece. It’s impossible to distinguish who is exactly playing when. But all performers definitely share a single goal:– ‘to explore the sonics of the mighty organ in all its thundering glory.’

You may have to set aside some of your preconceptions of ‘church organ music’ if your first association with the instrument is a church service or Bach, but I know you can, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be here and be reading this.

The reward:– an incredible journey into an almost otherworldly sonic space… provided of course you can play this on a decent sound system and on an appropriate volume (there’s a warning in the liner notes about the extremely low bass frequencies that may cause distortion, especially in the last track), and even then, I guess that even the best sound system cannot live up to the real ‘live’ sound of a church organ in its own reverberating environment. After listening to Semper Liber, I really hope that this series of live performances will be continued in the future. [Matthias Urban]

Wreck This Mess (France):

Le système son de notre vénérable tour a survécu… Il faut dire que ce vieux Mac Pro en a vu d’autres. Malgré la mise en garde – ‘warning! extremely low frequencies (bass) may cause distortion on headphones/computer speakers!’ – aucun dégât constaté. Ni pour nos enceintes, ni pour nos tympans…! En fait, seule la quatrième et dernière piste, qui donne son titre à cet album au tirage limité, accuse vraiment des fréquences très très basses.

Un lent bourdonnement que l’on ressent presque de manière physique et mentale. En parallèle, une longue plainte monocorde s’élève puis meurt tranquillement, dessinant une hyperbole sonore. Une note prolongée qui se déploie progressivement, sans variation de style, mais qui gagne en intensité avant de refluer (‘Aeternus’). Un drone acoustique qui sort des entrailles d’un orgue ‘martyrisé’ notamment par Marcus Davidson, Hildur Guðnadóttir et Mike Harding qui forment The Eternal Chord (et Mark Van Hoen pour le mastering).

Les morceaux intermédiaires (‘Perpetuum’, ‘Immortalis’) sont basés sur ce même schéma, mais ils offrent un aspect plus soft, moins intense. Nous sommes là sur un registre plus ambient, plus subtil aussi, avec un habillage un peu plus sophistiqué. Cette réalisation s’inscrit à la suite d’une série de performances live du même ordre où des artistes du label Touch sont invités à se produire dans différentes églises et à jouer de l’orgue de manière minimaliste et expérimentale. [Laurent Diouf]

Tone 59 – Claire M Singer ‘Fairge’

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.


ATTN:Magacine (UK)

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.

Ondarock (Italy):

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]

Exclaim (Canada):

Scottish contemporary composer Claire M Singer follows the patient beauty of her debut album, ‘Solas’, with this epic, nearly 21-minute single-track EP conceptualised 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.

Artnoir (Germany):

Und jetzt zu etwas komplett Anderem: Eine 20-minütige Komposition für Orgel und Cello, ein kontinuierliches Anschwellen an Klangschichten, ein hypnotisches Stück Musik zwischen Experiment und Ambient. Was die schottische Künstlerin Claire M Singer mit ‘Fairge‘ vorlegt, ist genauso träumerisch und unwirklich wie geerdet und emotional. Knapp ein Jahr nach ihre Debütalbum ‘Solas’ wird der Kosmos dieses jungen Talents gefühlvoll erweitert und ist nicht nur für Denker interessant.

Fairge’ ist als Lied wie als Konzept eine Reise und beginnt in kompletter Stille. Ganz sachte lässt Claire M Singer die Instrumente in das Bewusstsein des Hörers treten und verfeinert die Töne mit Elektronik. Was zuerst wie etwas unheimliche Field Recordings wirkt, bläht sich mit jeder Minute zu einem grösseren Klangkörper auf und man bemerkt: Dies sind Orgelnoten, welche schier pausenlos gehalten werden. Schwermütig, aber immer zaubervoll vom Cello umgarnt, steigt man zusammen mit der sich steigernden Lautstärke in die Höhe. Und spätestens ab der Hälfte des Liedes findet die Katharsis statt.

Claire M Singer scheut sich nicht, meist eher veraltet anmutende Instrumente in experimentelle Formen zu bringen und mit wenigen Veränderungen in der Komposition extreme Wirkungen zu erzielen. ‘Fairge‘ ist somit eine ergreifende Erfahrung und sowohl für Leute perfekt, denen Anna Von Hausswolff immer etwas zu bedrohlich erschien, für die die Orgel im Soundtrack zu ‘Interstellar’ dann aber doch zu selten aufspielen durfte. Und wenn am Ende die Musik langsam wieder aus unserer Wahrnehmung verschwindet, so bleibt das Gefühl der Vollkommenheit. [Michael Bohli]

Westzeit (Germany):

Rockerilla (Italy):

La poetica della meccanica, un suono unico davanti al quale si abbassa il capo chiudendo gli occhi nel rispetto della bellezza. Claire M Singer suona l’organo, un particolare modello di organo fabbricato artigianalmente da Ahrend e Brunzema. Uno strumento che si trova, nella versione con 17 registri, anche nella prestigiosa Oude Kerk di Amsterdam, lì dove a Febbraio la musicista ha presentato per la prima volta questo lavoro dal vivo. Solamente una traccia, venti minuti che si espandono per una durata indefnita, travolgendo l’ascoltatore con immense ondate schiumanti commozione, la stessa che si prova guardando lo spazio sconfnato dell’Oceano, Fairge in lingua gaelica. MAGICO. [Mirco Salvador]

Fairge (meaning ‘ocean’ or ‘sea’ in Scottish Gaelic) is a 21 minute composition for organ, cello and electronics written and performed by Claire M Singer.

The piece is commissioned by the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam (the city’s oldest building, now a museum), and was written especially for its remarkable Ahrend and Brunzema organ. “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.”

Fairge‘ builds up slowly, starting from the sounds of the breathing organ pipes, then introducing an almost shy cello accompaniment gradually gaining confidence and moving to the foreground. Getting stronger and louder (like ocean waves in a storm) – a massive and impermeable sound dominated by the sound of the church organ – ‘a lush harmonic backdrop against the harmonics and melody of the haunting cello’.

The sound of a church organ in full power can make man feel humble and small, and so does this ‘expansive soundscape full of intricate textures, rich overtones and powerful swells.’

The wind through the pipes of this organ can be precisely controlled using mechanical stop action. When the piece ends – the ocean storm retreats – one can hear the last breaths of air leaving the church pipes: the powerful dominance gone and replaced by a feeling of uncertainty that creeps back in together with the surrounding silence. [Peter van Cooten]

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Groove (Germany):

Zum Abschluss der Kolumne und der Jahreszeit angemessen gibt es heuer wieder eine vollendete Schöpfkelle purer Transzendenz. Das Zweitwerk der schottischen Organistin und Komponistin Claire M Singer, Fairge (Touch), ist ein einziger langwelliger, von subtilen elektronischen Echos umflorter Orgeldrone, der in zwanzig Minuten von dunkel glimmendem zu brillant gleißendem Schönklang und wieder zurück führt. Diese erhabene Breitseite von Kraft und Anmut hat zwar enge Verwandte wie Charlemagne Palestines Schlingen Blängen, ist in der durchgehaltenen klanglichen Schönheit und Liebenswürdigkeit aber doch gigantisch.

Pfeiltasten Hoch/Runter benutzen, um die Lautstärke zu regeln.

P.S. Im Winter um die Jahreswende 2017/2018 wird Singer ‘Fairge‘ in verschiedenen europäischen Kirchen aufführen. Nicht verpassen!

Blow UP (Italy):

RNE (Spain):

El Nuevo trabajo de la artista escocesa Claire M Singer, ‘Fairge‘, llega 16 meses después de su debut.
Fairge’ significa ‘océano’ o ‘mar’ en gaélico escocés y es basta como él, una pieza única de 21 minutos para órgano, cello y electrónica, compuesta, presentada y producida por Claire, en gran parte un trabajo complementario al tema principal de su álbum debut ‘Solas’.
Fairge‘ fue encargado por el edificio más antiguo de Ámsterdam y la famosa iglesia parroquial Oude Kerk, en la que se estrenó en febrero de 2017.
Fairge’ encapsula el característico estilo de Claire con sus paisajes sonoros expansivos llenos de texturas intrincadas, ricos matices y potentes oleajes, que resuenan emocionalmente de principio a fin.
Fairge‘ fue escrito específicamente para el órgano construido por los famosos Jürgen Ahrend y Gerhard Brunzema y explora el control preciso del viento a través de las tuberías mediante acción mecánica. Esto crea un telón de fondo armónico exuberante contra los armónicos y la melodía del violonchelo inquietante.
Además de su carrera como compositora e intérprete, Claire es también directora musical de órgano de la Union Chapel y directora artística del festival Organ Reframed.
En junio de 2017, recibió los Premios Oram de la Fundación británica PRS y el New BBC Radiophonic Workshop por su innovación en sonido y música.

Loop (Spain):

After her debut album ‘Solas’ (Touch, 2016) the Scottish artists Claire M. Singer released her ‘Fairge‘ EP which in Scottish Gaelic means sea.
This work was commissioned by the parish church Oude Kerk (the oldest building in Amsterdam) and was specially composed for the Ahered and Bunzema organ.
Fairge‘ is a single 21-minute organ, cello and electronic track that starts very slowly with the pulsation of a chord, and then another is added producing a slight change of tone, as if it were the opening to an epic piece of work. The cello emerges timidly while the electronic layers are submerged as a backdrop.
The organ with its precious pipes is closer to heaven than earth and its music thrills for its heavenly and inspiring beauty. [Guillermo Escudero]

Beat (Germany):

Sogar eine so großartig pro- duzierte EP wie ‘Fairge’ kann nur ansatzweise die Klang-macht, Fülle und Zauberweltlichkeit vermit- teln, welche die Kompositionen von Claire Sin- ger auf ihrem liebsten Instrument und in ihrer bevorzugten Umgebung entfalten: Der Orgel der Londoner Union Chapel. Mit einfachen, mecha- nischen Mitteln – Pedale und Register, sparsame Akkordtektonik, das Fortschreiten im Tempo ih- res Herzens, abseits von Clicktracks und weltli- cher Zeit – scha t Singer eine Musik, die Ruhe und Kraft ausstrahlt, aus Limitierungen unge- ahnte Möglichkeiten extrahiert und zugleich vertraut und zutiefst mystisch anmutet. 21 Mi- nuten Kontakt mit etwas, das sehr viel Größer ist als wir.

TO:101 – Claire M Singer “Solas”

Double CD in digifile – 7 tracks – 68:11
+ bonus DL track

Track listing:

1. A Different Place 06:35
2. Ceò 05:39
3. Solas 10:50
4. Dìobaig 04:47
5. Eilean 11:36
6. Wrangham 06:47

1. The Molendinar 25:57
and Aisir (Bonus track) (download only)

All tracks written & performed by Claire M Singer
Mastered by Denis Blackham @ Skye
Photography & design by Jon Wozencroft

Solas, Wrangham & The Molendinar were recorded by Iain Berryman at Union Chapel, London 26-27th February 2016 on the organ built by Henry Willis in 1877
Mixed at Bennachie Studios, Aberdeen and EMS Goldsmiths, London
Violin extract on Eilean from “Land of the Standing Stones” composed and performed by Paul Anderson

Eilean was commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council and The Molendinar by Civic Room, Glasgow and Union Chapel

Solas (‘Light’ in Gaelic) is Claire M Singer’s debut album spanning 14 years of her work in acoustic and electronic composition. In recent years she has focused on writing and performing a mix of organ, cello and electronics with regular performances at Union Chapel where she is Music Director, running a diverse programme of concerts and educational workshops around the Chapel’s Henry Willis 1877 organ.

Other performances include the Roundhouse London by The LCO Soloists; a’ fàs soilleir, an audio-visual work, exhibited at Tate Modern London, XMV New York City and Ceremony Hall Austin TX and she has performed as part of Spire at Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, Kunst-Station Sankt Peter Cologne and many more.

The Molendinar, which was co-commissioned in 2015 by Civic Room, Glasgow and Union Chapel, London to celebrate Glasgow’s Molendinar Burn Project was performed on the 14th June 2016 at Glasgow Cathedral to conclude the weekend festival.

Track Notes:

A Different Place: Cello – Recorded in Bennachie Studios, Aberdeen in 2009
Ceò: Electronic work derived from recordings of cello, piano and percussion, recorded at EMS Goldsmiths in 2002
Solas: Organ and cello. Written and recorded at Union Chapel in 2015
Dìobaig: Cello. Recorded in Bennachie Studios, Aberdeen in 2009
Eilean: Electronic work derived from recordings of cello, piano, violin.
In 2009 Claire was commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council to write a new work for the Homecoming Scotland referencing “Land of the Standing Stones” composed and performed by Scottish fiddler Paul Anderson. Small extracts of Paul’s work can be heard interweaving throughout.
Wrangham: Organ and electronics. Written and recorded at Union Chapel in 2014
The Molendinar: Solo Organ. Written and recorded at Union Chapel 2015
The Molendinar is a co-commission between new Glasgow art gallery Civic Room and Union Chapel London. The work is part of The Molendinar Burn Project which is a twelve site series of art projects, each individually situated along the exact route of the Molendinar, a hidden burn upon which the city of Glasgow was founded by St Mungo in the sixth century.

The work explores the precise control of wind through the pipes and therefore can be played fully on a mechanical drawstop action organ (Union Chapel) or with the addition of electronics (from the Union Chapel Henry Willis organ) when performed on an electro-pneumatic organ (Glasgow Cathedral).

Aisir (Bonus track): Electronics. Originally an 8 channel work, recorded at EMS Goldsmiths in 2006

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