Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Monica Pearce — Textile Fantasies
(Bandcamp Contradiscs no#, 2022, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-01-12
An all-instrumental concept album about textiles? So it appears to be: if music alone can tell this story, then Textile Fantasies succeeds on many levels. Monica Pearce is a Canadian composer, and this is one of those recordings where the composer and the performers are wholly separate — Pearce does not play on any of the tracks at hand, instead pulling together a number of different performers playing various keyboard instruments and percussion to make her musical fantasies come to life, a cycle of chamber works that cover an array of ideas that are as varied as the patterns of the textiles she is describing with her music. While in the past she has contributed to several other compilation albums, this is her first full length album of her own material. Where to begin? The opening piece is “Toile de Jouy,” a title referring to a specific type of linen printed with romantic, pastoral patterns from the French town of Jouy-en-Josas in the 18th century, today used mostly in upholstery and wallpaper — I know, it's a lot more than one needs to know in order to appreciate this solo harpsichord piece, although a harpsichord would have been the appropriate instrument in its day, and the busy machinations here could well be describing a pattern in cloth. Similarly, “Silks” is a sprawling, ten-plus minute solo piano piece that offers a dreamy interpretation of its subject. Even more interesting are pieces like “Denim,” “Chain Maille,” and “Leather,” that utilize multiple instruments (mostly tuned / untuned percussives and toy pianos) and players to describe their respective subjects, resulting in a somewhat avant-garde chamber style that is at once interesting and challenging. “Damask” approaches world music with a tabla, drone, and prepared piano offering something unusual and unlike anything else in the set. Textile Fantasies presents a musical adventure, beginning to end.
Related artist(s): Monica Pearce
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