COMPOSERS: John Luther Adams
ALBUM TITLE: John Luther Adams: Ilimaq
PERFORMER: Glenn Kotche (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: Cantaloupe CA 21112
John Luther Adams’s 2014 Become Ocean for double symphony orchestra offered a tumultuous meditation on the earth’s rising sea levels. An active and longstanding conservationist, Adams has engaged with the natural world in his music. In Ilimaq, a five-movement sequence composed for percussionist Glenn Kotche, Adams draws on the sound and spirituality of the frozen north. ‘Ilimaq’ translates from the native Alaskan Inupiaq language as ‘spirit journeys’. Inspired by the shamanistic tradition of using drumming as a gateway to the spirit world, Adams has created (in his words) ‘a journey through soundscapes drawn from the natural world and from the inner resonances of the instruments themselves’.
From fierce rhythmic repetitions on the drum to more free-form, ambient soundscapes, the work is scored for three ‘stations’ of percussion instruments heard alongside field recordings and digital processing of Kotche’s playing. This wonderful work is much enhanced in the DVD audio 5.1 surround sound version.