Sunday, 28 February 2010
SubVersion Stop 83: Greg Haines - Until The Point Of Hushed Support (Sonic Pieces 006)
Screening doesn't merely reassure: it indicates, rightly or wrongly, if more needs to be done. Artists sketch under a pantheon of their worst critic - usually themselves. With lazy tacking banished, a masterpiece can take a day, week, month - in control of Greg Haines and his miniature orchestra (Nils Frahm, the female singer from "Slumber Tides", et al) "Until The Point Of Hushed Support" took three years. And it's not hard from listening to see why. Feedback loops guarantee chances for engrossing, exploratory sprawl, where culture's whys and wherefors indebt us with an antidote to fear. Recorded mainly in Grunewald Church in Berlin, Haines hasn't rehashed classical archetypes where narrow vision ensues decay. Rather, he's reinventing self-praxis in his most accomplished statement as a composer, and furthermore as an interpreter.
Immediately the track names tell a story. "Industry Vs. Inferiority", perhaps, nodding to detested inhospitality. Pursuing the future can be like racing to catch light at the end of a tunnel, and on this quiet work for piano, faint traces of Goldmund's locative, sibilant frequencies paint a bittersweet scene. Solo pianism can translate as secular in its stronghold of riches - granted, soundtracks support it, but the style wholly resists commercial viability. Partially this occures through its audiences' lower generational imparting of experiences, anecdotes and taste. But nonetheless, labels (and moreover businesses) demand cross-pollination, with those carrying the torch, Sonic Pieces among them, providing an outsider's ticket to protocol, as well as an abode for adventure. And that's a very brave thing to be doing.
As you listen, there is a slowly unfolding sense of weightlessness; skirting the censors with detached allure, almost as if time is frozen, waiting to be melted down. Essentially, it's precursory calm to rainclouds of beauty frighteningly affecting the aural terrain. "Marc's Descent" rallies shiver-inducing violins, bobbing and weaving through scales in a kind of slow motion blues. Long, sustained rumbles interconnect with winded melody lines. Juddering percussive drones and church organ are thickly dense, like double decker buses ploughing snowy roads. You're able to recognise a distinction in range from "Slumber Tides", as if determination enraptures Haines' muse to bear his soul deeper than ever.
Crippled momentum finding tangents can be observed as an underlying theme of Haines', from his more digestible collaborations with Wouter Van Veldhoven, to his Miasmah debut. But none have seen him so agonisingly powerful as on the last two compositions of "Until The Point Of Hushed Support". Interplay defining a stuttered pulse is a joy to behold, and when the strings finally break into the forefront, you can feel the energy peak. The melodies on "In The Event Of A Sudden Loss" are stuffed with minute pleasures, begging for renewal, and receiving it with silence and subsidence. Slowly unfolding atmospheres partner electronic warbles, until glockenspiel entrails a rising appearance of string quintet, dissimilar to Max Richter's "Blue Notebooks" highpoints. Negotiating tentative steps with mournful string accompaniment, the notations repeat, flutter into darkened air pockets, conflating to a seemingly higher cause.
It's on "Until The Point Of Least Resistance", where a dying radio whispers against choral tones that we enounter harmonic climax, yet five minutes pass and it feels like an age. This is an uncanny truce of Haines that places him arbitrary from failed revolution - an ability to scuplt literally timeless sound-spheres that take in arresting chaos and filter it through shutters; those as awe-inspiring standing vertical as they are lying horizontal. Gripping would be the adjective of choice for this phenomenal conclusion, to a breathtaking album that's massively recommended.
Preview "Marc's Descent"
Want to see it performed live?