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FLIM makes a solid debut

May 23rd, 2011

Filed under: MUSIC


When you experience a new CD (remember those?), you need to internalise it, deep deep down. Like, let it seep into your skin, and right into your muscles, heart and bones – into your very nature and the roots of you. I’ve only listened to Flim, by Lunapark, three or four times. And right now I’m listening to it to double check how my music-receptors are going. Yep, they’re workin’ okay.

Track 1: Slight of Finger Throwaway (Michael Chant) – sounds like a quick study which are always more fun to play than to listen to, sigh. I’m playing some Bartòk at the moment, so I really identify with this one.

Track 2: Flim (Aphex Twin) – summery pop feel, with a warm type-writery percussion section piping up over piano, buffered by strings. This track will make you smile, bop, then sway. Am I in a French romance, or am I about to break into a modern dance routine? I don’t know, but it’s worthy of the album title.

Track 3: Avril 14th (Aphex Twin) – What happened on this date? Did the composer go for a row in a boat with his/her sweetheart up an idyllic river, draped with willow trees, as the sun shone on the lovers with good humor, for inspiration? That’s what I see when I hear this string track.

Track 4: Hy A Scullyas Lyf Adhagrow (Aphex Twin) – an understated piano piece whose name I’d never be able to pronounce, although I suspect it’s Welsh. The composer is English … so could be.

Track 5: Prep Gwarlek (Aphex Twin) – rakish music, helping us track time.

Track 6: Jynweythek Ylow (Aphex Twin) – delicate and gamelan-like, with a whimsical 21st century western european flavour.

Track 7: Strotha Tynhe (Aphex Twin) – modern piano piece with a cloudy sense of timing whose melody you feel rather than can sing along to.

Track 8: Flim (2) (Aphex Twin) – A different arrangement, mixed differently … (perhaps I need a sixth listen and the CD notes to help me be a bit more eloquent). It’s more restrained – it’s quite nice to get a few versions of the same piece on the one album. Shows the versatility and width of interpretation by the ensemble.

Track 9: Brutal Ardour (Brian Eno) – Anthony Fiumara, co-director, co-arranger and composer: “Come to think of it, this is also a prime example of electronic music that deserves a concert audience, even though Eno treated recorded strings using tape recorders, delays, and reverb when he recorded the music in 1975.” My question – is this electronic music? Wow. It’s really beautiful, while it is in all subtlety that the simultaneously-played semitones softly collide, the creepy sliding notes point to the brutality of this affection and the harmony hovers around a constant state of never quite resolving.

Track 10: Industry (Michael Gordon) – an intense cello piece that is worth seeing live (I have) and really gets into your cells. Such an incredible build up, it must be incredibly hard work to play. I can feel its vibrations behind my eyelids when I blink. Even now (the track’s over). Woah.

Track 11: Guts 11f (Arnold Marinissen) – a piece that may be better enjoyed in a concert setting, but I see why it was included on this album. It’s called Guts 11f, but I think of insects, and towards the end, of a large moth caught in a jar trying to flap its way out (but to no avail). But maybe that’s just me.

Track 12: Cheating, Lying, Stealing (David Lang) – what a great title. With its exciting syncopation it creates fantastic energy for this dramatic piece. The modest violin in the background acts as the lyrical thread to hold it all together, while the piano builds an intriguing morse code accent. About half way through it transforms, probably from cheating to lying. The violin sings out a little louder and the chromatic pacing begins (I guess that’s what you do when you tell tales). And then a few minutes later we’re into the third act: stealing and is quite serious and emphatic-sounding. I guess if you’ve come this far, you’ve just got to go through with it! And then we go back where we started. It’s a vicious circle, right?

Track 13: Solo for Alto Flute (Anthony Fiumara) – I also remember seeing this piece being performed earlier this year. You know, normally I write off the flute. That is, I don’t really like the flute. But I am open to be surprised: this solo is accompanied by the occasional gong (I think ). It is soothing, calm, technically well-executed, and while I might have liked a little more color, lyricism, or dynamic range in the performance, I’m sure Anthony was taking artistic direction of the recording of this piece. I’ll bet the notes said something like “even in tone” and “restrained”. And that, it is.

Track 14: Flim (3) (Aphex Twin) – Now I’m starting to wonder if it’s not just the same track as the other two, but with the knobs turned to different levels. This is wonderful electronic music – fine and fragile with the firm bass and chord skeleton echoing somewhere in the background. I think this track has found just the right way to make the drumbeat part hero, in all its delicacy.

The playlist is well planned – starting off with shorter pieces that help the new Lunapark fan start to ‘get’ their music. The longer pieces that require a little more concentration or listening investment are to be found in the last third of the album) and the third reprise of Flim finishes it off nicely.

You know, Lunapark is based at Strijp-S, which is where lots of exciting collaborations take place between design, technology and innovation in this country. When I read Anthony Fiumara’s description of the ensemble’s inspiration and how the pursuit of music is truly multi-disciplinary, I see how solid this ensemble is set to keep going from strength to strength. “Why Aphex Twin? Because he is totally in tune with the concept of digital folk music – and therefore with Lunapark. Just as serious American composers often take their cues from jazz, rock, and world music to get their music ticking like clockwork, the Englishman Richard D. James (Aphex’ real name) with his ingenious drum patterns has been making eyes at contemporary composed music for years. On top of Fiumara’s arrangements DJ StriCt (Jeroen Bakkenes) weaves subtle beats that fit Lunapark like a glove.” With the world’s heritage of music, over cultures and times, Lunpark’s debut CD is very well-grounded and anything but flim-sy.

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