Exposé Online banner

Claire M. Singer — Solas
(Touch TO:101, 2016, 2CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-08-23

Solas Cover art

After exploring acoustic and electronic composition for 14 years, UK composer and Music Director of the Union Chapel in London, Claire M Singer presents her debut album Solas. Solas, Gaelic for “Light,” consists of seven compositions for various combinations of electronics, cello, and pipe organ. Each composition slowly materializes out of silence, reaches a climax, and then slowly fades away. Though each piece follows this basic template, the music varies from composition to composition with different instruments commanding the foreground. Claire employs an avant-garde, experimental approach to her work, exploring sustained notes and chords, allowing the harmonics to interact, and the results are much less academic than you might expect. Because of her multi-layered and heavily processed approach to composition, I am reminded at times of Tony Conrad and Ellen Fullman (long string instrument compositions). Claire’s compositions vary in length from five minutes to the mammoth 26 minute “The Molendinar” on the second CD. At the start of each composition, it is virtually impossible to identify the sound source for the first minute or so. As the volume increases and she begins to weave in the harmonics and other instruments, the music resolves itself. Some compositions are ambient soundscapes and others like the title track and “Wrangham” approach being majestic hymns to the cosmos. The eleven-minute “Eilean” interweaves multiple layers of cello and Scottish fiddler Paul Anderson, think of Gilbert Artman’s Urban Sax on stringed instruments instead of saxophones. “The Molendinar” is a co-commissioned work between the Glasgow art gallery Civic Room and the Union Chapel. Since you are probably wondering what this unusual word means, the Molendinar is a hidden burn (watercourse) upon which Glasgow was founded by Saint Mungo in the sixth century. “The Molendinar” is a piece for solo organ and begs the question, how do you make a 26-minute sustained organ chord interesting? By varying the harmonics via precise control of the wind in the organ pipes and supplementing the chord with interwoven cello and electronic lines. Overall an impressive debut release that should appeal to more than academics.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Claire M. Singer

Latest news

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Episode - Starlight Tales – I've been listening to Episode for quite a while and patiently awaiting this disc. They live in the Bay Area, so I see them around at shows, and have been asking them for the last year and a half...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues