Perhaps the time has come for highlighting the work of Annea Lockwood the composer a little more than it’s usually done. Typically remembered for burnt pianos and recordings of rivers – both types of act still needing to be considered as fundamental components of her resume – Lockwood is here represented by three scores that touch on diverse aspects of sonic apposition and which include, in the case of the title track, the despair of human beings unjustly deprived of their freedom as a reminder of the unpredictability of people’s destiny in relation to the cruelty of “righteousness”.
The gorgeously polymorphic “Jitterbug” – conceived for a piece by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company – was originally meant to be executed via six-channel tape and live performers. In this version, terrific parallelisms exist between pre-collected examples of subaqueous forms of life (insects and fish), actual instruments played by John King, David Behrman and William Winant, and resounding drones of piano tones and bowed gongs previously taped by Gustavo Aguilar, Joseph Kubera, Maggi Payne, Marilyn Ries, and Winant. Given that the “live score” consists of six images of peculiarly patterned rocks from the Montana Rocky Mountains, the idea of a series of complex natural phenomena enriched by extraneous, and yet perfectly complementary factors is soon established. Spiritually invigorating and aurally enriching matter, a considerable distance from the worthless vacancies of today’s post-Cage-ism.
“In Our Name” is a homage to the sufferance of many unfortunates who were detained and tortured, as suspect terrorists, by the US military forces in Cuba’s Guantánamo Bay. Thomas Buckner’s rendition of verses by Jumah al-Dossari, Emad Abdullah Hassan and Osama Abu Kabir (respectively, from Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan) is earnestly expressive and, in the first poem, augmented by a somewhat shocking twist: a tiny mouth speaker emitting bursts of shortwaves to dramatically stress selected words, symbolizing the desperate aliveness of the prisoners in graphic fashion. Cellist Theodore Mook’s masterfully placed pitches amidst the lyrics represent a critical component in this distressing composition.
The record ends on a more serene note with “Thirst”, in which the voice of Lebanese sculptor Simone Fattal recollects episodes from her past with a mixture of delighted emotion and peaceful melancholy. Those remembrances are interspersed with flashes of a soundscape including New York’s Grand Central Station during the rush hour and sparsely delivered strokes of bewitching resonance (piano, attenuated gong and a sound sculpture by the Baschet Brothers recorded by Bruce Odland). Again, Lockwood’s estimable ear lies at the basis of an intriguing juxtaposition of times and places that non-superficial audiences are going to perceive as a rewarding cohesion.