over the course of several months, áine o'dwyer was given access to the pipe organ in st mark’s church, islington while the cleaners were at work. primarily a harpist, this was a rare opportunity to grapple with the "king of instruments" and apply her sense of melodic, structured improvisation in a very different context.

since it's impossible to exert complete control over such a recording environment, she entered into the sessions with a cagean mindset, embracing the extra-musical sounds. this gave the recordings a unique character and concept. with the door left open to serendipity, it can seem that the sonic environment coalesces in sympathetic harmony. here, the synth-like whoosh of the vacuum cleaner, a child's laughter, various echoed clatters and chatter become part of the music.

improvised music is inevitably influenced by the presence and expectations of an audience. in this case the "audience" consists of people subjected to music that they may find coincidentally pleasant or irritatingly intrusive as they go about their work. they exert an influence via the musician's awareness of them, but also through their audible and sometimes disruptive presence as coincidental performers and unwitting collaborators. áine capitulates to the "request from the ladies" by not staying "on one note for a long time", but already did "bring music" - that is, the graphic score reproduced in the gatefold. at the end, we can hear that even the recording device itself is subjected to the relentless advance of church cleaning.

the album is multifaceted and conceptually satisfying in many ways. it's simultaneously a series of solo improvisations, a site-specific piece of performance art, rich in chance elements, and even qualifies as a field recording, where the transcendent and menial meet. despite the absence of cheers and applause, it's also a live album. in this new extended incarnation, it becomes almost a kind of minimalist opera, with a subtle plot of polite contention softening amid curiosity about the trumpet that takes us out of this most concrete of recordings with a single psychedelicised blast.

metaphysical themes are hard to avoid using an imposing instrument traditionally intended to inspire them. the titles hint at áine's meditative concerns while playing. here is an irish lapsed catholic mind (as cranley told dedalus) "supersaturated" with the religion it rejects: the double meaning implicit in "church cleaning", the forbidden "deep sounds", the pensive, often brooding hue of the music itself, heavy in every sense. throughout i hear the dark depths of thoughtfulness, warmth, and mischievous wit that is quintessentially áine.

originally released as a cassette on fort evil fruit, this expanded vinyl edition features new artwork and doubles the album's length, making for a truly immersive experience.
 

text by: paul condon

 

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