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WHITE, FRANCES - In the Library of Dreams

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Pogus Productions P21064-2
Release Year: 2012
Note: highly interesting subtle & poetic "dream theater" music performed on acoustic instruments (like the Japanese bamboo flute 'Shakuhachi', violin/viola, clarinet, piano...), using also field recordings & electronics, by this female composer from New Jersey (USA), whose music has been used in three GUS VAN SAINT films
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"I was going to write about how this is an absolutely beautiful and disturbing record, but I think quoting from the liner notes of James Pritchett really does sum it up. 'Frances White invites us to take a walk through her Resonant Landscape. Where are we going? We are walking through the woods, marshes, and streams of New Jersey. She points out the birds and frogs that make their home there, the water that flows through it and the wind that shakes the trees. But then we turn and there is that other sound world, the one in which these woodland sounds are transformed, or in which we find sounds altogether new: spectral birds singing to us through a sparkly haze; distant colored winds, like the breath of giants; the air around us, alive, charged with long, low drones and sudden electric crashes. There is something magical about this other world, and (like most magic) there is something disturbing here as well. We move between the two worlds almost at random, bumping into one sound after another. We find ourselves rising off the path and floating, then falling abruptly into silence, reappearing in a marsh full of geese and blackbirds. This is more than a sonic postcard from Princeton: it is a journey into the inner world of Frances White. We could call it an electroacoustic dream drawn from her memories of hikes in the woods. As in a dream, real experience is placed in a surreal context, a play of inner and outer. We fill in the gaps, supplying connections among the random fragments of reality, memory, and imagination. This gets to the heart of White's music. She has made a body of work in which she takes the real, brings it into her being, transforms it there, and then brings it out again in her compositions. Technically, she works by using the computer to manipulate recorded sounds and to synthesize wholly new ones. She mixes her timbres by hand as a painter would mix colors, and she applies them lovingly and painstakingly to her canvas of silence. But the power of her work comes from her ability to take listeners on journeys through her inner sense of sound, finding something luminous, exalted, dramatic, and at times frightening there. Her music is like the work of dreams, both the pleasant ones and the nightmares. It is not by accident that Gus Van Sant set the calmly-executed bloodbath of his film Elephant to one of White's Walks through 'Resonant Landscape'. White's unsettling juxtapositions of real and imagined sound work well with Van Sant's matter-of-fact treatment of almost unwatchable violence. Frances White studied composition at the University of Maryland, Brooklyn College, and Princeton University. She has received awards, grants, commissions, and fellowships from organizations such as the Guggenheim Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Alice M. Ditson Fund, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Prix Ars Electronica, the International Computer Music Association, ASCAP, the Bang On A Can Festival, and the Other Minds Festival. Ms. White's music can be heard on CD on the Wergo, Centaur, Nonsequitur, Harmonia Mundi, and Bridge Records labels. A CD devoted to her chamber works, Centre Bridge, was released in August of 2007 on the Mode label. Ms. White's music was featured as part of the soundtrack of three of Gus Van Sant movies." [label info]


"This new Pogus release is a work of a composer who is completely new to me. White studied composition at the University of Maryland, Brooklyn College, and Princeton University. Some of her work has been released by labels like Mode, Bridge, Harmonia Mundi, etc. This new release gathers six compositions for very different line ups. The first one, Chosi is for solo shakuhachi, beautifully played by Ralph Samuelson. White studied Shakuhachi herself and feels inspired by traditional music that has shakuhachi in a main role. Also she feels inspired by nature. No wonder that she often uses natural field recordings in her electronic work. Just like Jonas Braasch, White has a comparable fascination for space and environment in her musical output, like titles as Walk through Resonant Landscape 5.1and Walk through Resonant Landscape 5.2 indicate. Both titles provide a picture or metaphor that describes how one can experience these pieces: it feels like a travel through different parts of a jungle. Here birdcalls dominate, there sounds from insects. The works are built up as a series of waves of manipulated environmental sounds. The works have a fine balance of acoustical natural sounds and electronics. White builds successful imaginary landscapes and surroundings. Also I would say she is searching for some spiritual quality in sound. The title piece In the Library of Dreams is written for viola damore played here by David Cerutti, against a background of electronic sounds. Only one piece is for an ensemble, The Ocean Inside played by Eight Blackbird, an ensemble of six musicians. It is a romantic piece of work of slowly moving patterns that disappear in a background of fragile sounds. The closing piece The Book of Roses and Memory has very sensible playing by Liuh Wen Ting on viola and Thomas Buckner as narrator. The electroacoustic music of White takes you into dreamy atmospheres, with compositions that are not extremely complicated. In fact her work is very accessible. It is also very solid work and far from some easy romantic pastiche." [DM/Vital Weekly]