FRANCES WHITE – In The Library Of Dreams


There are occasions in which a conscious writer is subjected to a succession of circumstances that ultimately produce unexpected emotional states as a final result. During an email exchange with a friend, I was pointed to this great collection – sent my way a few months ago and still lying in one of the innumerable “to do” piles – as the archetypal example of a talented composer becoming a victim of unqualified reviewing exposed to a wide audience. When I finally listened to In The Library Of Dreams, many questions came to mind, all of them independent from belonging to one or another “faction” (that’s right: in recent times, there’s someone attempting to build barriers between genres and artists, in the name of who knows what). The fundamental issues being: to what extent the individual sensibility – or lack thereof – determines how a record is recognized and publicly depicted? And, especially, what has become of the limits that should be enforced upon musically untrained writers, in view of a general willingness to downplay the value of a glorious work just because of a bad mood spell, or a personal agenda privileging other acquaintances perceived as more deserving? One wonders if, somehow, an Evil Queen syndrome of sorts is starting to affect chroniclers desirous of demolishing what is made of unpolluted radiance.

That said, a heartfelt “thank you” must go to the above mentioned interlocutor for having involuntarily accelerated the enjoyment of this beautiful CD. Frances White – her output unknown to me before – creates music in which impalpable threads linking adjacent sonic universes generate diaphanous soundscapes meshing elements from orthodox tunes, computerized fineness, transcendental echoes of unspecified locations and poignant melody reminiscent of earlier eras. The title track demonstrates how a viola d’amore (played by David Cerutti) can look for traces of soul-stirring remembrance amidst a textural grid whose overtones looked almost forbidding at the beginning. “The Ocean Inside” shows members of the ensemble eight blackbird (lower-case, yes) enriching and developing with alto flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion the modification of a traditional Japanese tune “Chōshi”; the latter’s version for solo shakuhachi (masterfully performed by Ralph Samuelson) opens the program. In the two episodes of “Walk Through Resonant Landscape” one can learn what is the difference between “field recordings” and “compositional use of field recordings” in contexts where the adjective “spectral” is overly severe, for some tantalizing gracility is to be found in those chapters.

The conclusive “The Book Of Roses And Memory” – based on a text by James Pritchett recited by Thomas Buckner accompanied by Liuh-Wen Ting’s viola – is meant to be staged but works as a musical piece per se. In it, a man relieves a dying woman who suffers from sleep deprivation by inventing stories on roses he reads about on horticultural books. This – beyond the mere “I like / I don’t like” response – has to do with love, exactly as the large part of the sounds contained by the Library. I’m really not sure if persons without a clue of what that means will be able to enjoy even a single minute of this release, since it looks to me that White is trying to explicate that complex yet simple concept throughout. It is not her fault if, in today’s world, frigidity and cynicism are displayed like medals of honour.

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