Experimental, modern classical, minimalism, sound art: whatever you want to call it, this is music written by a composer from a conservatoire background, played by the kind of people who describe themselves as an ensemble rather than a group, which puts us in the high art realms, which of course means high art prints of sparse imagery, and the cover, depicting a thin person with back to the viewer in an oversize grey t-shirt gives very little away.
Said composer is Rishin Singh, who studied Performance at the University of Sydney, before relocating to Berlin and forming Leider, a quartet of players, including the man himself on trombone, who perform his written works. Led mostly by cello, flute and predominantly female voice, and having a sparse, intimate sound with strokes of monotonous sounds, interspersed with moments of atonality…as you might expect.
Reminding me of Gavin Bryars, Meredith Monk, or some of the more sparse elements of Nico, with perhaps some of the more bleak parts of Eno’s collaboration with Harmonia (I’m thinking specifically of “Luneberg Heath” here) it presents an atmosphere similar in some respects to Dagmar Krause and the Art Bears (though not nearly as dynamic!), so they are in good company. The band themselves name check a host of artists including Messiaen, Scott Walker, Nico and Low, and I can see the similarities in most of them.
The press release uses words like ‘measured’, ‘stately’, ‘fragile’ and ‘delicate’ and Rishin himself describes the album as an ‘argument in favour of human fragility and imperfection’, and I have to admit that I absolutely agree with all of the above. The music is understated and concentrates as much on the silence and space of the moments as it does the actual playing. In fact “Slinker”, apart from monotone singing, features mainly ambient sounds of crows and knocking sounds and general outside noise, to great effect. The word fog in the title of the album is very apt. The music wraps around you like a fog, surrounding you. Obscuring things from view, whilst also bringing things into stark relief.
Most of the music and lyrics are written by Rishin, with the exception of “Great Expectations”, which has lyrics written by Charles Dickens alluding to the scene where Miss Havisham is telling Pip to open his heart to Estella and love her, knowing full well she will reject him and break his heart
Eccentric, creepy, still, low-key, contemporary, minimalist, difficult, atmospheric, distant, hushed. If any of these descriptions appeal then you definitely won’t be disappointed, and you can guarantee its quality.
A Fog Like Liars Loving is out now on Beacon Sound – order via Bandcamp on vinyl and digital download.