Elizabeth Brown – Mirage (CD New World Records)
The mission statement of New World Records deserves recognition as it is to record the music of American composers that would not otherwise be represented in the catalogues of the commercial recording companies. Another seminal recording on New World Records that sees the day of light is Mirage and this time it is Elizabeth Brown who gets rescued from oblivion.
Brown is Composer-in-Residence at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. All though she’s not creating the contemporary Mirage on her own, Brown is credited for flute, shakuhachi and the theremin and with those instruments one already can tell this is not necessarily going to rock. The different pieces on Mirage are recorded in 2004 (Arcana), 2007 (Piranesi, Atlantis), 2008 (Seahorse, Mirage), 2010 (Shinshofukei, or an imagined landscape) and 2011 (three arias) and are recorded with different line-ups. On Seahorse, Brown is accompanied by the Newband, a collective founded in 1977 by composer Dean Drummond and flutist Stefani Starin bringing (overtones and harmonics) using their home-invented Zoomoozophone, a metal instrument that is tuned to a microtonal scale, and the results of those collaborations range from Glass’ minimal timbres to Wagnerian megalomania.
It would not be very flattering to call Mirage the perfect score for horror b-movies and it would as well be doing not enough justice to what Elizabeth Brown is creating here, yet the Theremin has this quality of sending shivers down your spine when played. The high pitch singing created by the Theremin perfectly blends with piano to create a form of desperate poetry, whilst randomly placed guitar strums and flute intermezzo’s create distraction from complete isolation, culminating in a postmodern universe. File under contemporary classical but the fairytale like music delivers a stunning range of overwhelming classical passages, patched and glued together to form a surrealistic landscape which is highly inspiring, innocent sounding at the same time but always deeply moving music. PvdG.