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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Nonesuch
WORKS: Kingdom Come; Hymnodic Delays; Fog Tropes II
PERFORMER: Kronos Quartet, Theatre of Voices/Paul Hillier, American Composers Orchestra/Paul Lustig Dunkel
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79613-2
The American composer Ingram Marshall, 60 this year, specialises in music combining live performers with electronics – the latter often in the form of his own location recordings, later manipulated in the studio. In Kingdom Come (1997), an elegy for the war dead in the former Yugoslavia, slow-moving orchestral music is overlaid with Marshall’s recordings of Croatian Catholic and Serbian Orthodox services, together with an old tape of a Bosnian Muslim folk singer. Fog Tropes II (1993) mixes a string quartet with an atmospheric tape (also used in an earlier version with brass) containing chiefly foghorns and other sounds from the San Francisco Bay. Hymnodic Delays (1997) is a little different, since the sounds of a vocal quartet are treated in real time with echoes, delays and pitch distortion; but here again there is an element of ‘found’ material, in that the singers’ parts are taken from early New England hymns and psalms. Although one suspects that Marshall’s ‘composed’ music might sometimes sound rather banal on its own, his fluid collages – with excellent performances by the live musicians – certainly create some impressive soundscapes. With their clearly defined geographical references and emotional states, they may well win new friends for their genre. Anthony Burton