Phantom Islands

Album cover art for upc 4260175850763
Label: TELOS
Catalog: TLS242

Suzuki, Tosiya; ensemble recherche; Grill, Michael; Schneller, Oliver; Asbury, Stefan; Bourgogne, Guillaume; Camerata Aberta; Berwaerts, Jeroen; Yamamoto, Junko; Banda Modern; Miyata, Mayumi; Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin; Ensemble Modern; Reiserer, Christoph; Tai, Tomonori

On ancient maps one can often find land masses that originate not in geographic fact but rather in myths and legends: fabled kingdoms like Thule or Atlantis, but also islands which were assumed to exist, but were never actually located. Some of these phantom islands were preserved for centuries on maps, and only vanished with the improved navigational techniques of modern times. These islands may not have existed in fact, but they were nonetheless present and meaningful as imaginary objects. This makes them interesting as an aesthetic inspiration as well. In Oliver Schneller’s Phantom Islands for 14 instruments and electronics, the idea of the emergence of elusive, illusionary objects plays a defining role in the timbral and formal structure: the composer describes his work as a kind of double concerto, in which the real instruments interact with their electronic reflections as counterparts. These virtual or “phantom“ instruments are not exact timbral reproductions of their instrumental progenitor, but rather appear as though distorted by concave or convex mirrors. Their sound consists of electronically magnified or compressed acoustic refractions of the original instrument. When both sound sources intersect, the musical texture temporarily solidifies into characteristic and clearly defined acoustic shapes which resemble “islands“ that suddenly appear from a transitory ocean, only to vanish again just as quickly. In terms of structure, the piece consists of a succession of sound “waves,” from which arise compact structures which are then swallowed up by the following wave. Beyond these structural analogies, Phantom Islands offers parallels to the ocean. It plays with the refraction of light on the surface of water, and the middle of the piece refers to the calls of sea birds, while the epilogue makes reference to the song of humpback whales.

Price: $21.99