Karen Power: Human nature review – A kind of magic carpet

Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 05:00

   
  

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Composer Karen Power certainly gets about. The 18 pieces on her new album feature field recordings made in Australia, Cambodia, Crete, Laos, Namibia, New York City, Offaly, Peru and Switzerland. The concept is that of “pairing human with nature: 1 musician with 1 un-processed field recording,” using locations that embrace urban soundscapes as well as remote ones, the buzzing of bees as well as the motor and street noises of modern life.

The album was created under lockdown conditions, each selected field recording sent to an individual musician for responses which have generated titles like sirens of New York, bats of Namibia and a frog and gecko moment from Australia. The paired performers, some also using electronics, are singers Thomas Buckner, Lore Lixenberg, Michelle O’Rourke and Ute Wassermann, and instrumentalists Anne Bourne, Johnny Chang, John Godfrey, Seth Josel, Simone Keller, Silke Lange, Cathy Milliken, Anne-Marie O’Farrell, Caomhín Ó Raghallaigh, Carla Rees, Jane Rigler, Rishin Singh and Samuel Stoll. Power herself performs with “tiny motors and objects”.

The atmospheric vividness and rich spatialisation of the original recordings has a kind of magic carpet feel that carries a very special charge at a time when we are all compelled to live peculiarly restricted lives. Travel doesn’t always have to be physical.