I stayed a minute
Eve de Castro-Robinson
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Dean Sky-Lucas (piano, voice, & percussion)
Eve de Castro-Robinson (compositions)
Harvey Benge (photography)
I stayed a minute was conceived by composer Eve de Castro-Robinson as a limited edition vinyl release in tandem with Auckland photographer, Harvey Benge. This beautiful hardbound LP/book is a highly-collectable objet d'art that celebrates the talent of two of New Zealand's most well-established and highly-regarded artists, each working at the peak of their powers.
The two compositions on this album form a diptych for piano, voice and percussion featuring Auckland pianist Dean Sky-Lucas. Each piece is divided into three movements with suggestive poetic titles drawn from some of Eve's favourite writers. Both are concerned with a similar range of sonic explorations, from the ritualistic, meditative pulsing of repeated notes, to more restless and dynamic figures on the keyboard and beyond. As Eve often does in her music, the sonic palette is extended to include vocalising, percussion, and interior piano.
Ring true employs metal handbell and tam-tam, while and the garden was full of voices sees the pianist whispering, crooning, and chanting, as well as utilising prepared strings (CD cases on the strings). Each work is allusive rather than programmatic, conjuring the sound of bells (both literal and metaphorical), birds, and voices (real and imagined).
Also available as a CD (complete with a re-sized version of Harvey's book), and as MP3 or FLAC downloads. A free download is available with every LP and/or CD purchase. Simply write to us to request a download code:
RAT-D063LP (December, 2015)
Production – Eve de Castro-Robinson
Engineering – Steve Garden at the Music Theatre, University of Auckland
Assistant engineer – Clovis McEvoy
Photography – Harvey Benge © 2015
Cover design – UnkleFranc
Printing and packaging design – Studio Q
I stayed a minute Eve de Castro-Robinson
01 Ring True
Mvt 1: a music as numerous as space (5:50)
Mvt 2: a wild dissolving bliss (4:10)
Mvt 3: a quietness distilled (2:53)
was commissioned by NZ pianist Dan Poynton in 2003
02 And the garden was full of voices
Mvt 1: the air sings of life (5:14)
Mvt 2: moon darkened by song (3:05)
Mvt 3: the ancient chants are echoes of death (4:52)
and the garden was full of voices was commissioned by Barry Margan for the SOUNZTender project in 2010, and premiered by pianist Gao Ping. The title is from a line of Bill Manhire’s: “I stayed a minute/and the garden was full of voices”.
Total duration: 26:04
All compositions © Eve de Castro-Robinson, 2014
Thanks to everyone involved in this project, especially Dean for his excellent musicianship, Carolyn at UnkleFranc for her exceptional design artistry, and Dave at Studio Q for his tireless and inspired commitment to making the most wonderfully tactile and impressive packaging possible. We're enormously grateful, and extremely proud of what we have collectively achieved.
Eve de Castro-Robinson is one of New Zealand’s foremost composers, whose works are performed in NZ and internationally. Twice winner of both the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, and Philip Neill Memorial Prize, she has been commissioned and performed by many leading performers including all NZ orchestras, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Nash Ensemble of London, Alexander Ivashkin and Jane Manning. She has three solo CDs on the Atoll label and single works on many other recordings. Eve has had several portrait concerts devoted to her music, and in 2012 her Len Lye: the opera, to a libretto by Roger Horrocks, was staged at the Maidment Theatre for a sell-out season. She has been selected for residencies with the Auckland Philharmonia, the Atlantic Centre for the Arts Florida, Banff Centre, and Brisons Veor in Cornwall. Eve sits on the Board of SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music. She is Associate Professor and Head of Composition at the University of Auckland where she also directs the Karlheinz Company.
Photograph, Gareth Watkins
Harvey Benge works in Auckland and Paris. His images give voice to the mundane and overlooked in an open-ended photographic sequence that resonates with boldly expressive tension and ambiguity. Benge has been a camera artist since 1993 when his first photobook Four Parts Religion, Six Parts Sin was published. He is known for his many photobooks which have been published in Britain, Germany, France and Japan. Benge’s bookworks deal with the complexity of urban life, and the nature of seeing and understanding. They have been exhibited at the Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf; the Antwerp Foto Museum, Belgium; Foam Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam; The Photographers’ Gallery, London, and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. His books have twice been finalists in the Prix du Livre at the Rencontres d’Arles, France. Benge’s photographs have been shown extensively in public and dealer galleries in Britain, throughout Europe, and in New Zealand. He is also known for his teaching role, with hands-on master class workshops conducted in Europe and New Zealand.
Dean Sky-Lucas has been Lecturer and Head of Collaborative Piano at Auckland University since 2010. He studied organ and piano at the University of Newcastle, Conservatorium of Music, NSW, and for 4 years was an associate artist with the Australian National Academy of Music. Dean has performed harpsichord, celeste, piano and organ with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and has featured as soloist and chamber musician in the Adelaide, Melbourne, and Brisbane International Festivals, and The Prokofiev Festival. Dean is known throughout the Asia-Pacific via many broadcasts with ABC FM and has toured and performed throughout Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, the UK, New Zealand, and USA. Dean is also one of Australasia’s most prominent countertenors.
The music of Eve de Castro-Robinson is well represented on CD, with three fine albums on the Atoll label. All feature New Zealand cover art, most memorably in the delicate avian explosion of Peter Madden's Birds on 2011's Releasing the Angel.
De Castro-Robinson's latest release finds her in collaboration with photographer Harvey Benge. And so, while you listen to Dean Sky-Lucas lay out the extraordinary sound worlds of two 12-minute piano pieces, you can contemplate 29 images by Benge; images that, like this music, search out ironies and coincidences with a clear eye and dry wit. While the photographer is better served with the luxurious, limited edition, vinyl release launched last year, a recent CD presentation is much more practical in terms of making the music available.
The first work, Ring True, dates from 2003 and, with the imagination and studio know-how of Rattle's Steve Garden, the music presents a unique sonic response to images from writing by Shelley and Emily Dickinson that inspired it. Dickinson's "music as numerous as space" travels from tremulous whispers and handbell to almost apocalyptic tam-tam and cluster chords; Shelley's "wild dissolving bliss" provokes an etude with soul, clarity and sinister stalking bass. De Castro-Robinson's And the garden was full of voices was written in 2010 for the remarkable vocalising pianist, Gao Ping.
Delving inside the piano case lends an oriental ambience to the voice-laden garden of Bill Manhire's poem while, mid-piece, Sky-Lucas uses his countertenorial skills to illuminate a "moon darkened by song."
William Dart, NZ Herald
This unusual collaboration features a creative partnership between contemporary classical composer Eve de Castro-Robinson and photographer/bookmaker Harvey Benge: de Castro-Robinson’s music formatted onto a vinyl LP, and the record sleeve’s sequence of 14 double-page spreads (that come after the square cover and single page intro image) providing backgrounds for Benge’s colourful images and overlaid vertically rectangular inserts.
The result is a sort of art object, even though to say that undermines de Castro-Robinson’s aural contribution. The disc has to be played and listened to, not looked at as a black circle placed alongside Berge’s complex contributions, when seen in an open hardcover book designed by UnkleFranc.
I happen to be a CD enthusiast who abandoned vinyl years ago, any regret about the greatly diminished artwork being assuaged by the ‘dust-free’ CD sound which I’m happy with. (And I’ve no interest in the more reduced frequency range of MP3s.) Because I have no turntable, I managed to persuade (brilliant film writer) Steve Garden of the extraordinary Rattle records to burn me a CD. However you could argue (leading from what I’ve said above) that this is cheating, and that handling the vinyl record, removing it from the jacket/ book, placing it on the turntable and positioning the needle on its outer rim is part of the ‘listening deal’ that Eve de Castro-Robinson requires. That that physical action is a muscular prerequisite for participating in de Castro-Robinson and Benge’s project.
So here are some observations about the interplay of visual and aural components in this package, such as for example, that the three sections of each of de Castro-Robinson’s two compositions vaguely correlate with the three divisions of most of Benge’s double page spreads.
With Benge’s layouts, we can ponder the relationship between the vertical rectangles on each of the two-page spreads (matching patterns, shape, colour or content), or between them and the backdrop. Then there are the connections between details of the imagery of two consecutive page spreads that become obvious when you turn a page. There is also the relationship between Benge’s chosen imagery and the lines of poems (often by Bill Manhire) chosen by de Castro-Robinson for titles - domestic garden imagery for example.
The cover (taken in a Parisian sex-shop), and opening image (of a crumpled cardboard box under plastic sheets) are particularly striking, and some of the spreads, especially nos. 2, 6 and 8) are very effective in their synthesising of elements from different sources.
Benge’s images here are not typical of his practice (as seen in his books) in that there are no portraits - but they are characteristically urban with their public street frontages, household objects and domestic environments; de Castro-Robinson’s contributions on the other hand are surprisingly intimate with the commissioned pianist occasionally singing or playing percussion as well. There is often something very private within the experience of listening to a solo perfromance that art rarely gets near.
Both of de Castro-Robinson’s compositions are performed by the keyboard player and countertenor, Dean Sky-Lucas. They are each about twelve minutes long. While playing the keys or strumming the strings of a piano, Sky-Lucas also taps a bell and tamtam gong in Ring True, and whispers, sings, chants, hums and claps in The Garden was Full of Voices.
The first composition has a Debussy-like prettiness, especially in its middle section (wild dissolving bliss) where the tinkling notes cascade and ripple, while the second is more austere. It uses a more regularly repeated rhythm of single treble notes that builds up tension through its simplicity to climax with hissing whispers. Then, by using greater volume - and incorporating middle and lower range - it creates a compellingly layered work of textural complexity.
Through this inventive artistic collaboration it is obvious that the relationship between the two senses and ‘parallel’ artforms is complicated. However there is an interesting argument that no one sense (least of all visual), can ever be pure or isolated. Each ‘single’ sense is a hybrid of many, that visual and aural aspects are inevitably fused together. Here is Tom Mitchell on the subject, in a fascinating (surely provocative) essay: There are no visual media.
John Hurrell, Eye Contact
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