‘In Search of the Miraculous’ presents a kind of musical Fourth Way

Gramophone July 2013
Review of In Search of the Miraculous LCMS1301
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Fifth recording project from cult Irish music promoter
The Louth Contemporary Music Society continues to explore and unearth hidden and often unclassifiable gems from the contemporary music repertoire on its latest release, ‘In Search of the Miraculous.’ The title takes its inspiration from the Armenian-born mystic George Gurdjieff (1866-1949). Gurdjeiff developed a holistic mind-body theory in his writings called ‘The Fourth Way’, based on years of travelling and studying Eastern religion and spirituality. ‘In Search of the Miraculous’ presents a kind of musical Fourth Way by drawing together East and West, experimental and avant-garde, ambient, minimalist and improvisational traditions.
With such a mix of styles on display, it’s maybe no surprise that not every piece strikes the right chord, but the hits are greater than the misses. Fazil Say’s Black Earth resorts at times to clichéd neo-romantic sweeps but starts and ends evocatively by imitating the sound of the Turkish lute-like sax on muted piano strings. Elisaveta Blumina offers a more measured performance than Say’s here, and also pulls off an excellent performance of a Chaconne by Siobhán Cleary. Cleary’s composition is a compelling study in stasis and movement, while oud virtuoso Rabih Abou Khalil’s Dreams of a Dying City – a 13-minutes ‘improvisation’ on a 14 beat ground bass- seems less certain of the direction it is taking. Weird sub-bass dissonances are heard on Armenian composer Vache Sharafyan’s Tsov Kentsaghuis for voices and tape, performed by the ubiquitous Hilliard Ensemble, while the layered interlocking patterns in English saxophonist John Surman’s Eastern-tinged Leylek Geldi provides a lighter touch to conclude proceedings. If a musical Fourth Way isn’t charted on In Search of the Miraculous’, it is certainly worth exploring.
Pwyll ap Siôn

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