Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Pianist, composer and sonic explorer Alan Brown of Auckland has appeared at Elsewhere many times previously, sometimes when he was on the periphery of jazz.
But mostly in his incarnation in the world of exploratory ambient music which, over a series of album we have thought to place in our Further Outwhere pages, a space reserved for those who head off without a map and rely on their own musical intuition as their compass.
Brown's albums can be elevating and mediative, often weightless yet resonant.
They are some way from the straight-ahead and popular band Blue Train which he lead in the Nineties and his own Alan Brown Trio.
He has played with Nathan Haines and Caitlin Smith, was a member of the Grand Central Band and has long been an educator.
His most recent albums have found a home on Rattle's Seventh House Music imprint. His new album is Ondulation and the title might require some explanation, so we pass the mic to Brown.
“On the album I incorporate an instrument called the Ondomo and I will also be giving an introduction/demonstration of this instrument prior to the release performance on the launch night. [See below]
“The Ondomo is a recent re-creation of one of the earliest electronic instruments, the Ondes Martenot, which was developed in France in 1928, around the same time as the Theremin, but which incorporates quite a different and unique interface.
“As far as I know, I am the only person in Aotearoa with one of these.”
For the recording of these 10 improvisations, Brown went back to his primary instrument, the piano, for many of the pieces, allowing the various background colours to inform the process.
“Throughout the album, there are subtle nods to the history of electronic creative expression and development during the 20th century, including a recorded interview with the great Delia Derbyshire from the BBC Radiophonics workshop, as well as shortwave radio excerpts that I’ve employed as a tribute to the original tones produced by the Ondes Martenot using heterodyne radio frequencies.
“While many tracks feature the instrument as a solo voice or layered texture, my primary focus was musical and personal expression.”
With broad washes of sound, Derbyshire's sampled voice peaking through and absorbing effects, Ondulation is another persuasive and seductive release from Brown and the Seventh House Music which happily finds a home at Elsewhere's Further Outwhere pages.
We offer here a teaser sample track and commend the album to you.