This is the lead single from Micah Frank and Chet Doxas’s forthcoming LP The Music of Hildegard von Bingen Part 1, which lands in November. Ave Maria combines a masterful harp performance from Mary Lattimore with Doxas’s meandering woodwind, gently billowing electronics and the late addition of a softly pulsing kick drum. Deep chill.
Press releases are usually at best informative and at worst a complete waste to everyone’s time. However the one for Mary Lattimore and Paul Sukeena’s new collaborative album West Kensington struck me as particularly well-penned, so here’s an excerpt that does a better job of evoking its strange and beautiful atmosphere better than I could.
It is shocking what your mind will choose to forget. Almost always it needs a tear, a clean dash, a straight passage into what you’ve already known. Looking back, West Kensington has achieved that very goal: creating a landscape for memory, an imprint of that horizon, suspended in the cosmos.
The earliest harps were discovered a long old time ago: around 3500BCE. Back then and for years after, they were the instrument de jour, but despite their popularity around the globe for centuries, and depiction in several cultural cornerstones (see: Guinness, Ireland in general), you have to go a little out of your way to find much modern music based around a harp. Mary Lattimore is arguably the most well-known proponent of this unwieldy instrument, and her new album Silver Ladders is engrossing, transportive and gorgeous, with the 10-minute epic Til A Mermaid Drags You Under an intense, occasionally unsettling but completely enthralling highlight.
I’ve loved pretty much everything Julianna Barwick has done over the past decade, so waking up to a new album of hers today was a very welcome surprise. Healing Is A Miracle is everything I’d hoped it would be: immersive, soothing, emotional, fragile, beautiful. Oh, Memory is an early highlight, and further cements my yearning for live shows come back in some form really soon, as if I don’t have the opportunity to listen to this in a church or similarly reverential venue I’m going to be very disappointed.