If you check the back catalogue of Monty Adkins (which I definitely think you should), you’ll find that he often chooses a single instrument to work with and then starts exploring its possibilities and manipulating its sounds. And while the starting point and sounds are very different to begin with, he manages to create a ‘sound-field’ that is immediately recognisable. Check, for examples, the cello sounds of “Borderlands“, or the clarinet playing on “Four Shibusa“.
“Unfurling Streams“, his recent release on Crónica, is based on recordings of percussion instruments made by Jonny Axelsson (a much praised percussionist with impressive experience in playing contemporary music by composers like Stockhausen, Ligeti and Kevin Volans) and Monty Adkins himself.
The inspiration for “Unfurling Streams” comes from the last two lines of “maggie and milly and molly and may” by E.E. Cummings – who (according to the notes on poets.org) “abandoned traditional techniques and structures to create a new, highly idioyncratic means of poetic expression”:
maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)
and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and
milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;
and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and
may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
“In Unfurling Streams, the ‘stream’ reflects life—something continually flowing, evolving, and changing.
Eddies, currents, pools and spray also are suggestive of ways in which the stream makes its way through the landscape and are clearly reflected in the images and sounds created for this project.”
It’s fascinating to hear how the variety of sounds from the percussion instruments – from sub-low rumble to high-pitched metallic – resemble a stream of water finding its way.
With the way he post-processes this material, Monty Adkins creates his characteristic “slow shifting organic textures”. However different the original sound sources are, it is this delicate texture that links the album to its predecessors “Borderlands” and “Four Shibusa” – like a sonic trilogy.
For those living in Holland:
Monty Adkins will perform live in Utrecht, Holland at Tivoli De Helling on Sunday, May 17, 2015.
The afternoon live set (3 PM!) is part of a double bill with Anne Müller (cello player known for her work with Agnes Obel, Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds, but of course also for her solo work).
For this occasion, Monty Adkins will perform a special set with cello player Seth Parker Woods.
A rare occasion that shouldn’t be missed!!