Jane Antonia CORNISH (b. 1975)
Constellations I [7:33]
Beyond the Sky [8:55]
Wave Cycles [10:22]
Constellations II [8:30]
Vicky Chow, Anna Elashvili, Arthur Moeller, Margaret Dyer Harris, Hamilton Berry (performers)
rec. Reservoir Studios, New York City, dates not given
INNOVA 006 [43:55]
Jane Antonia Cornish’s album Into Silence was my introduction to her music in 2017 (review) and, while I wasn’t unreservedly gushing about that release, found it pleasantly agreeable to be able to develop this acquaintance with Constellations.
As with Into Silence, we have here a nicely integrated set of pieces given a cyclical feel through consistency of materials and sonics, and a reiteration and variation on the title work to close the loop. Ambient sounds and vast fields of resonance give the music a Harold Budd kind of feel, the piano being a soulful voice at its heart. Violins notes wave above the texture like prayer flags in Lux, and the electronic sounds create an enigmatic bed of tonality or pedal over which the rest of the music develops in an open, improvisatory way.
These are certainly effective as evocations, the title Beyond the Sky being given a halo of infinite space under which a string quartet slowly spreads its gentle progressions. If you’re looking for references this is not a million miles away from something like Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic with the bumps and spooky voices smoothed out by something from John Tavener, and perfectly lovely for all that. The electronics fade by the end of Beyond the Sky leaving the strings in an isolated diminuendo. They return for Wave Cycles in a higher register amongst gently tingling electronics that grow and are reinforced by a piano texture, becoming an accompaniment for a lovely violin solo.
The strings that return and conclude Wave Cycles give renewed meaning to the piano phrase that opens Constellations II, this now being taken over in consolatory fashion by the strings. The sense of arrival is made complete as the violin again soars above the strings, the whole underscored by Cornish’s rich and subtle electronics which then make way for the piano to plays us out.
This isn’t an album to over-intellectualise or fuss too much about associations with other artists or albums – this is music to which one closes one’s eyes and let go, to enjoy and relish such a gorgeously quiet moment. Constellations says what it wants to say, does it beautifully, and doesn’t linger around too long in the telling. You’ll want to have it around for those profound moods which demand dimmed lights and an absence of distractions from the outside world.