FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Thorne

Chosen One: Daniel Thorne

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I’m fascinated by the way that certain ratios and sequences occur in nature, like fibonacci spirals and the golden ratio, and the idea of these things speaking to a kind of higher logic that, even if we’re not explicitly aware of, we recognize and feel on some level of our perception.”

—Daniel Thorne

 Words: Mark Carry

daniel thorne

Released last spring on the awe-inspiring Erased Tapes label, Liverpool-based composer and Immix Ensemble founder, Daniel Thorne’s exceptional debut solo album ‘Lines Of Sight’ is one of those rare jewels in the realm of contemporary music, which confounds, inspires and delights such is its remarkable sonic oeuvre. The album title perfectly embodies the music- the intricate layers of saxophones (and bass synth in places) unfold endless new pathways that beautifully meld, intersect, overlap and yields magic at every turn.

Let’s begin at the end. The album’s final piece, ‘Fear of Floating’ is built upon mesmerizing, pastoral saxophone tapestries, whose gentle patterns forge a staggering beauty like the endless ripples cast upon a stone on water. An intimacy is immediately created.  Some time later, warm textures of bass synth is masterfully added, in perfect unison with the vivid colours of the lead saxophone instrumentation – it’s like a synergy is thus created that brings forth the joyous, heart-rending climax of ‘Lines Of Sight’s deeply empowering musical exploration.

A synergy perhaps pinpoints the process itself – or more specifically, the reaction the listener feels in midst of these otherworldly compositions – where the close interaction of Thorne’s sonic components produces a combined effect greater than the sum of their parts. A joy to witness unfold (and subsequently) transform.

The record amasses one giant cohesive whole, of breath-taking magnitude and raw  emotion, wherein endless contrasts of dense, polyrhythmic, frenetic free jazz waves are masterfully juxtaposed with the intimate, sparse and dappled light of orchestral colours. The rawness and energy that emanates from the utterly transcendent opus ‘From Inside, Looking Out’ (recalling the kindred spirit of Colin Stetson) serves the fitting opening to Thorne’s scintillating solo music path. This cathartic flow leads into the unwavering beauty of the sparse lament ‘From the Other Side of the World’ (reminiscent of English composer Michael Nyman’s timeless works), a piece of music you feel you have known all your life. A closeness and delicate beauty permeates each and every heart pore.

Similarly, the hypnotic,pulsating and blissful ‘From the Heavens’ is laden with heavy synthesizer instrumentation before the introspective stillness of ‘Pyriscence’ beautifully fades in, akin to a labyrinth of faded dreams.

‘Lines Of Sight’ is a very special and transformative solo work from a visionary composer.

‘Lines Of Sight’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

http://www.danielthorne.net/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

daniel thorne 2

Interview with Daniel Thorne.

 

Congratulations on the sublime debut solo album ‘Lines Of Sight’. The album title perfectly embodies the music- the intricate layers of saxophones (and bass synth in places) unfold endless new pathways that beautifully meld, intersect, overlap and yields magic at every turn. Please take me back to the making of your debut solo album and the challenges/opportunities this writing/recording process offered up (in contrast to your role in Immix Ensemble)?

Daniel Thorne: Thank you for the kind words! This has been a very different project to what I’m used to – in the past most my writing projects have been geared towards live performance, usually with a fairly frantic rush towards a rehearsal, then a premiere, and then often that’s it and I move on to the next thing. Dealing with studio-based composition is definitely a different kettle of fish. I’d been dabbling with it for a little while but had never managed to create anything that I felt was meaningful. I found that the infinite possibilities afforded by that way of working were quite intimidating, and I lost a lot of time trying to decide what instruments to write for, how many tracks to use, etc, etc. I ended up getting around that by basically creating an ‘ensemble’ of four saxophone parts and four synth parts, which was the limitation that I needed in order to get over that.

The other road block for me was being so used to writing music with live performance and performers in mind, which kept colliding with this desire to use the studio to do things that were essentially impossible to perform should I go out and gig the music. In the end I decided to take any ideas of a live realization of the music out of the equation and focus on creating something that was intended to be experienced in recorded form, which was really liberating. The irony is that now I’m trying to work out how to put together a live set that relates to this music, but that’s a whole other thing…

The glorious and mind-blowing opening track ‘From Inside, Looking Out’ serves the perfect opening to this sonic journey. I’m very curious to learn to what extent is a piece such as this born from improvisation (or particularly solo live performance)? The sheer intensity and raw energy unleashed is quite something indeed. Also, the distinct movements that are contained within this composition showcases the masterful arrangements of this record.

DT: I definitely wanted it to have the energy and rawness that you’re talking about, however this piece actually started out as a fairly simple chord progression played on the piano. The majority of the overall structure of the piece was written at the piano, and it was only later, after I’d made those decisions I mentioned before about which instruments I was going to use, that I started to shape and sculpt things in a more focused way. I knew I wanted to start with a bang, and I was very much thinking of the masses of sound created by large free jazz ensembles rather than something more polished and orchestral.

As the titles of the first half of ‘Lines Of Sight’ suggest, there is very much a bird’s eye view of the world – it’s almost as if the creator is above the clouds, inhabiting some otherworldly realm. Can you discuss the themes and central narrative to ‘Lines Of Sight’ please? Was coming up with the album-title a certain gateway into the music, so to speak?

DT: Aerial images and the idea of a bird’s eye view were very much in my mind when composing these pieces. In particular I was interested in exploring the idea of perspective and how that is altered by distance – how something like a river or an ocean that can be incredibly complex and detailed when viewed up close is reduced to a simple line or shape when viewed from high above, how the natural and man-made start to become indistinguishable from one another – and playing with those dualities and contradictions. The first half of the album actually started out as a stand-alone suite in three movements which was titled Lines of Sight, but when I decided to do a full album I wanted to keep those ideas at the core of the additional tracks. I felt that it was a phrase that encapsulated the concepts really well, and that it made sense as the title for the whole album rather than just the first half of it.

‘From the Other Side of the World’ is such a breathtakingly beautiful and heartfelt lament that irresistibly floats in the ether. Can you take me back to composing and writing this particular piece? How long were these pieces simmering in your mind I wonder?

DT: This piece evolved in a very organic way, in contrast to some of the other tracks which came out of more rigid processes. It was literally just a case of improvising at the piano, and stumbling onto a chord progression that seemed to unlock everything else relatively quickly – I think I fleshed out the entire thing in about two days, which is fast for me. At the time I was feeling quite homesick and missing family and friends in Australia, so the piece began to take on this feeling of being a soundtrack to saying goodbye at the airport, taking off and arriving back in the UK.

In general, do you find these tracks were captured to tape after very few takes? The intimacy and immediacy of the music suggests they could be live takes in fact? Please describe your studio set-up and if you experimented with new processes on your solo outing?

DT: The way that I’d written things made it pretty difficult to do a full song in one take – dealing with multiple saxophone and synth parts that all had to be precisely synchronized meant that almost everything was fully scored out and had to be multi-tracked following a click track. The one exception to that was ‘Fear of Floating’, where I did one take of the main saxophone part (without a click) and then added everything else around it. I did generally try to limit myself to only doing a couple of takes for each part, mostly because otherwise I would have would up with a lot of material to sift through, but also because I wanted to embrace a certain amount of rawness and imperfection. I didn’t do any major editing other than a bit of comping here and there.

In terms of my studio setup, it’s pretty basic and low budget, just a laptop with a nice preamp and a microphone in the spare room at home, plus a synth and few effects pedals. The fact that I was multi-tracking everything and recording in a space that was fine but not particularly special in terms of its acoustics meant that the saxophone recordings were mic’d pretty close, which I think again helped to highlight smaller details and imperfections in each part, rather than creating a more homogenous, orchestral vibe.

The dichotomy of worlds and series of counterpoints and contrasting textures is something that occurs throughout ‘Lines Of Sight’. I love the more electronic/techno bliss of ‘From the Heavens’ and how this flows into the more fragile and organic sound world of ‘Pyriscence’. Was the sequencing of the record a significant challenge, to create that endless flow, as it were?

DT: That’s very flattering, but I actually think I just got lucky as in my mind there really only seemed to be one logical order for everything – as I mentioned, the first side was originally conceived as a suite and I didn’t want to break it up, while ‘Fear of Floating’ had always felt like an ending to me. Because the album began with quite a loud dramatic statement, I didn’t want to repeat that gesture to start the second half, which pretty much meant it had to be ‘Pyriscence’ – I really didn’t feel like there was any other way that made sense. I also really liked that that this meant that the two sides were sort of opposites of one another in terms of the balance between more- and less-dense pieces.

I would love to gain an insight into your compositional approach and the highly calculated nature of some aspects to your music-making process?

DT: Several of the pieces were developed out processes like isorhythm, long-range polyrhythm, and ratios. I’m fascinated by the way that certain ratios and sequences occur in nature, like fibonacci spirals and the golden ratio, and the idea of these things speaking to a kind of higher logic that, even if we’re not explicitly aware of, we recognize and feel on some level of our perception. I wanted to see how using similar kinds of devices and logics to inform the form and proportion of the pieces, without making them overly explicit, would influence the way the music was perceived by the listener. Probably the most strictly calculated in that regard is “Threnody for a Burning Building”, where all of the harmonic material comes from a very simple chord sequence moving at three different speeds simultaneously, while all the changes in the rhythmic texture are dictated by a series of polyrhythms and their interaction with one another. Having said that, that piece is definitely the most rigorous example, there are other tracks that grew in a much more organic way, while others contain a balance of both.

What’s next for you? Have you been enjoying any particular records of late?

DT: I’m doing my best to figure out my solo live set, and trying to find a way of creating a similar sonic environment to the album while also focusing on the kinds of things that I enjoy about live performance such as improvising, stretching material, etc. I’m also going to be working with Forest Swords to compose a piece for Immix that will be performed as part of the PRS New Music Biennial in London and Hull later this year. In terms of records, I love the new Szun Waves album, ‘New Hymn to Freedom” and I’m completely obsessed with David Lang’s ‘Mystery Sonatas’.

‘Lines Of Sight’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

http://www.danielthorne.net/

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

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July 10, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Mixtape: Fractured Air – March 2019

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This month’s mix features new music from the magnificent Berlin-based, Cork-raised producer ELLLL with the arrival of her essential “Febreeze” 12” last month, carving out multi-layered, seductive techno cuts. Irish songwriter Maria Somerville’s exceptional debut full length “All My People” we continue to fall for, with the record’s divine song cycles rooted in beautiful 50’s/60’s pop songs that are encapsulated in wondrous post punk/indie spheres of today. A wholly unique labyrinth of astral song cycles.

New music also from the imitable London-based, Australian songwriter and producer Carla dal Forno (and excitingly the first release for her newly established label, Kallista Records); Immix Ensemble’s Daniel Thorne’s magnificent debut solo album on Erased Tapes; Norwegian duo Deaf Center’s highly anticipated return on Sonic Pieces; Forma’s John Also Bennett’s wondrous solo LP (under the JAB psuedonym) on Shelter Press and two formidable new releases on the ever dependable North American label Constellation. Grouper’s sublime new project Nivhek (self-released), Italian composer Caterina Barbieri’s forthcoming Editions Mego-debut and Craig Leon’s forthcoming release on Brooklyn institution RVNG Intl are other highlights.


Fractured Air – March 2019

01. William Basinski – “On Time Out Of Time 1.1” (Temporary Residence)
02. Nivhek“Cloudmouth” (Self-released)
03. ELLLL“Sunrise edit” (First Second Label)
04. Patricia“No One Needs Nothing” (Opal Tapes)
05. JAB“Jacob’s House” (Shelter Press)
06. Maria Somerville“This Way” (Self-released)
07. Houston & Dorsey“Ebb Tide” (Numero Group)
08. The Cryin’ Shames“Please Stay” (Decca)
09. Rupie Edwards“Buckshot Dub” (Spectrum Music)
10. Vivien Goldman“Launderette” (Window)
11. Carla dal Forno“So Much Better” (Kallista Records)
12. Oqbqbo “All This Waiting” (Posh Isolation)
13. Antena“Camino Del Sol” (Les Disques Du Crepuscule / Numero Group)
14. Khotin“Water Soaked In Forever” (Ghostly)
15. Daniel Thorne“From the Other Side of the World” (Erased Tapes)
16. June11“White Bird” (Stroom)
17. Craig Leon“Standing Crosswise In The Square” (RVNG Intl)
18. Don Cherry“Utopia and Visions” (Caprice Records)
19. Talk Talk“New Grass” (Verve Records)
20. Deaf Center“Far Between” (Sonic Pieces)
21. Poppy Ackroyd“The Dream” (Penelope Trappes Remix) (One Little Indian)
22. Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria“We Will” (Constellation)
23. Light Conductor“Chapel Of The Snows” (excerpt) (Constellation)
24. Carola Baer“Golden Boy” (Concentric Circles)
25. Aponogeton“Prologue” (Stroom)
26. Caterina Barbieri“Fantas” (excerpt) (Editions Mego)
27. Laraaji“I Can Only Bliss Out (F’Days)” (Numero Group)