Initial 300 copies pressed up on blue wax* The dark interpreter, Stephen O’Malley ov Sunn 0))), presents his towering debut orchestral composition ‘Guidés’; commissioned by French 35-piece improv orchestra ONCEIM – l’Orchestre de Nouvelles Créations, Expérimentations et Improvisation Musicales – and released thru Demdike Stare’s DDS label. In early 2014 O’Malley was approached by pianist and composer Frédéric Blondy to write a work for the orchestra, comprised of exceptional musicians from the fields of contemporary, jazz, experimental, improvisation and classical. Understandably intimidated by the prospect, but encouraged to “just be punk rock about it”, the preternaturally gifted composer has conceived a technically demanding – for the players at least – and richly rewarding longform drone piece intently focussed on harmonic experimentation and overtone study.
During its 35 minute lifespan, ‘Gruidés’ requires the musicians to sustain pitches for several minutes (which is difficult enough for strings, and a real feat of endurance for woodwind), yielding a gloaming spectra of eliding dissonance rent in sliding tone clusters and lucent geometries punctuated by a similar whipcrack percussion as used in his Scott 0))) collaboration. It makes great use of the acoustic qualities of Saint Merry church, central Paris, as captured in the recording of IRCAM’s Augustin Muller and mastered by Matt Colton with a detached spaciousness evocatively distilled in the cover art by Jean-Luc Verna. ✪