Review

Andy Backhouse, Sigil of Brass, October 21, 2016

So says the blurb — but what did I get from this album: genius, essentially.

James O’Callaghan is a composer and sound artist based in Montréal praised for his “mastery of materials and musical form” (Électromania, Radio France) and “highly refined sense of colour” (Vancouver Sun).

There is plenty of that is this recording.

Using a blend of electroacoustic media, employing field recordings, amplified found objects, computer-assisted transcription of environmental sounds, and unique performance conditions this is an album to be reckoned with — there is everything from orchestral crescendos to the quietest of piano witterings.

O’Callaghan’s work spans chamber, orchestral, live electronic and acousmatic idioms, audio installations and site-specific performances. His work has been variously commissioned by the Groupe de recherches musicales (GRM), NYO Canada, Ensemble Paramirabo, Quasar, and Standing Wave, among others.

A composer with pedigree — and this album holds out.

In many ways, this is a very busy recording — the listener does not get much time for peace. As the name of the album suggests — this is a very claustrophobic affair. But one worth pressing on with. Yes, there is the odd flirtation with solace; but that is soon knocked asunder for the betterment of noise.

… genius, essentially.

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