Walpurgisnacht: detailed background notes to the compositions

Introduction

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Release date: 29 March 2009

Format: CDR in a Super Jewel Case. Cover and disc artwork, typography and verse by Landschaft.

The work explained

Walpurgisnacht is a partner piece to my collection The Beginning of the New Winter; Walpurgisnacht being the close of the old winter; the witches night, St Walpurga's night. A festival of such potency that Christians, pagans and Satanists lay claim to it across the breadth of Northern Europe. It is the festival marking the transition from winter to spring; 30 April/1 May.

I have marked the work in words, a prose-poem: In this dawn of the new season, where lapwing crowds rook among the fresh turned clods, a look to the light over winter's stone shoulder, on buds parting the musk scented earth, make their silent homage to the sky as winter gives way to spring this Witches Eve. And in the Beltane fire is kindled a mystery for another day.

The work is a single piece, some 59 minutes in length. It started out as a minimal reflective piece, an interplay of gongs and bells that remain in the middle to distant background. Then multiple layers of strings evolved, each suggesting from the last. Layer upon layer was added, making this, at times massive and dense. And at times the density pulls back to single held notes, a favoured motif in my compositional toolbox, and a marvelous signifier of tension and anticipation. I think this work is rather special - it was certainly my most complex and technically difficult to realise. For instance there are three versions where I adjusted the instrument volumes to optimise the overall volume and density of the piece, and numerous other (discarded) side-tracks that did not work.

I am now taking time out to learn musical notation and formal orchestration, so it may be a while before I release new work (though I do have one album ready and waiting in the can to bridge the gap, if necessary). I may produce a more orchestrated version of this work, an idea that I'll mull over as I learn my new skills.

Review by Mark Tamea, 30 April 2009

On this Walpurgisnacht eve, Mark Tamea has written for me this review:

For me 'Walpurgisnacht' is pure, accomplished, unadulterated space music. Galactic space, dreamspace, or cubic kilometers, this music defines some vast dimensions. By technique of referral, this beautiful piece of work conjures up the grandiose enormity of scales beyond our experience, and delivers the sensation with a deeply emotional impact. During its fifty nine minutes this piece undulates, rejuvenates and recycles, giving birth to itself over and over again, whilst sending out shimmering reflective arcs at tangents to its core.

Astronomers discover the presence of distant, unseen bodies in space by observing the way in which their gravitational field influences and bends the passage of light sent to earth from the stars which they can observe. By analogy, this is exactly what Walpurgisnacht also does. It describes infinite spaces which we can not detect at first hand, by using a more familiar yardstick. Generating languid, tightly expressive notes within each cycle, and jettisoning them from the mothership to drift painfully alone into the void, as if dropped from a cosmic pipette into the blackness which they counterpoint, they slowly decay as their fragility mirrors the ungraspable vastness of a cosmic scale. Landschaft has managed to sculpt these periodic codes of vulnerable sound with such empathy, that you almost feel sorry for them as they float away. They are like the smallest mirrors, which reflect all, within a mutual identity.

This is an impressive, cerebrally dreamlike composition, which, if you meditate upon it, evokes both visions and emotional narratives. If you consider that there is just as much inner space as there is outer space, it is almost as if you were connected directly to your own internal Hubble telescope. In my opinion this the most accomplished of Landschafts' longer works. You get a strong sense of the discoveries he made with 'The True Path' and 'Silence' being molded to a focussed precision, and it truly excels in the poetic maturity of its tones. As the layers of sound twist and weave slowly together it never once leaves behind its sense of musicality. This makes those lonely journeying notes all the more poignant as they disappear into the singularity that awaits them.

The album is accompanied, as always from this artist, by beautiful artwork which visually anticipates the music, gorgeously packaged in a super jewel case. Try to pick up one of the limited edition CDs from the Landschaft Shop - as this release is highly recommended.