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Bekah Simms — Bestiaries
(Bandcamp Centrediscs CMCCD 30622, 2022, CD / LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-01-26

Bestiaries Cover art

Bestiary: A medieval book (usually illustrated) with allegorical and amusing descriptions of real and fabled animals.

Originally from St. John's, Newfoundland, Simms spent the last ten years based in Toronto, composing unusual, confounding, and uncompromising music, with Bestiaries being her third release. The three long tracks on the album chronicle an imaginative avant-garde style full of motion, bold colors, mystery, warmth, and sharp contrasts existing well beyond established norms. Simms is operating strictly as the composer, arranger and producer on the music at hand, not as a performer, with the exception of some electronic treatments she adds to the vocals on the title track; the music is delivered by an eleven or twenty-one piece orchestra, track depending, so in essence this is a collection of modern classical pieces. Only the title track that closes the album features vocals, starting much as one might expect, delivered by soprano Charlotte Mundy, but as the piece progresses the vocals increasingly become the subject of Simms’ electronic treatments, and while they are interesting in their context, they are not that unusual for explorative listeners (I am sometimes reminded of the title track of the Fifty Foot Hose album Cauldron). It’s the first two tracks, “Foreverdark” and “From Void” at eleven and twelve minutes respectively, that are the most adventurous, dare I say out-there, the former being the most intense, with the players using all sorts of extended techniques to convey a disturbing and abrasive scenario, while the latter, made with only eleven players, seems somewhat tame by comparison. Intrepid and adventurous listeners will find themselves right at home within the three long pieces on Bestiaries. As of September 2022. roughly one month before this album’s release, Simms took a position as a lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and now lives in Glasgow, so it should be interesting to learn what directions her future endeavors go.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Bekah Simms

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