Friday, June 5, 2020
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Artist: Talbot & Deru (@)
Title: Genus
Format: CD
Label: Dear Oh Dear Records/Ant-Zen (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
This breathtaking electro-acoustic record, coming from a prolific collaboration between the talented British composer Joby Talbot ' member of the creative team that produced the ballet 'Chroma' for the Royal Ballet, whose curriculum twinkles for a plenty of awarded works, such as his first major orchestral opera 'Luminescence', premiered by the BBC Philarmonic, boasting an enviable profile as a film and Tv composer as well ' and the quick wit by Benjamin Wynn aka Deru - an electronic musician and sound designer from Los Angeles, counting many releases labeled by Delikatessen Records, Neo Ouija, Ghostly International, Mush, Merck, whose passion for art and architecture seems to live in concord with his high interest in music technology innovations and his talent in carving marvelous synthetic symphonies -, was intended to act as the score for Wayne McGregor's ballet Genus, based on Charles Darwin's theories and discoveries of evolution, being a really topical matter aroused by media due to the increasing interest in genetic research. I'll skip the subject of Darwinism ' you'll find a huge amount of stuff about this matter -, but it's impossible to pass over the impressive charm of the evoked atmosphere in this release as well as its narrative homogeneity, doing its part side by side the documentary inflection of this opus (there are some excerpts taken from Darwin's notes, among which the scientist's ones describing the exact moment of the discovery of evolution, hieratically beginning with the words 'I think..' forestalling his famous diagram as well as many other quotations), so as the whole atmosphere of Genus seems a musical adaptation of the evolutionary graph, translated into a fable-like musical language.

The first four tracks, grouped into just one title, Transmutation, sound more austere and tenser: the initial crackling fading into slightly delayed modulated voices which seem coming from distant places, before they begin flowing around the sound sphere and finally amalgamating into undulating choirs, is going to carry your imagination to the very first evolutionary phases and smelling the scent of that primordial soup Darwin speaks about. The somewhat-liturgical atmosphere, maybe influenced by the location where it was recorded I the end of July 2007 ' St-Michael's Church at Highgate in London - is partially broken by the mechanical sound-clicks by Deru dropped into the gloomy smoky soup in the second track, partially reminding to my mind that kind of sound sculptures Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto usually mould together. The Transmutations follow an ascending whirl-like movement with many dramatic and sometimes obscure moments (that's maybe cause their project has sometimes been compared to the one by the esteemed Mexican composer Murcof'¦ even if Talbot & Deru's sound is not so dim) till the erupting togetherness of all sounding elements reach a critical point. After that moment, according to the words by Joby Talbot, the music 'fractures and collapses into the ambient sounds of the storm that raged outside the church where we recording', a magical moment you could breathe in the second (and more idylliac) part of Genus, featuring a touching performance as solo violinist by Louisa Fuller and the choral one by The Duke Quartet ' it seems that at the end of the recording of the suite Genus, flood waters begun cascading through the building's interiors! -.

The final movement, The Great Tree of Life, shows the perfect amalgamation between classical music elements and the buzz of minimal electronics and it definitively depicts in a lovingly magnificent way the final revelation of the English naturalist, i.e. the discovery of the mechanism by which life has covered the surface of the earth 'with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications'. Available in a deluxe edition (strictly limited to 100 copies) with hardcover sleeve and a 20-page booklet, Genus contains also two intriguing video-clips and a sort of documentary on the matter. Hauntingly sublime workout!