Tip! *In process of stocking* To celebrate composer Charlie Morrow’s 80th birthday, Recital presents 80 minutes of voice-based recordings in his new album, Chanter. While Morrow’s previous two albums on Recital Toot! Too (2017) and America Lament (2020) focused on chamber and electronic compositions, Chanter covers over 60 years of vocal explorations. Spanning from Charlie’s first ever tape recording Ella (1960) to two intimate chanting improvisations made in 2021 for this CD.
Curated by Sean McCann, the dozen tracks which comprise the album include pieces like ‘Drum Chant’ (1971), a roaring percussive crescendo with chanter hyperventilation; ‘A Chant With Watches’ (1974), a spatial work of watches placed on top of microphones across the stereo field, oscillating in octaves. Composer Annea Lockwood appears on the album playing a glass water jar over the telephone at a 1984 New York concert where Charlie dialed in performers from around the world to collaborate with him on stage. A central portion of the album is the large-scale shamanic opera ‘Spirit Voices’ (1971), based on concepts from Siberian shamanism. With tape playback of Charlie’s handmade electronics and amplified chanting voices, the 1987 staging also included fire artists, metal sculptors, brass ensemble, saw player, and dance troupe. Elements of sound poetry are fused with minimalist drone and sometimes violent electronics.
Two beautiful choral works are included: ‘Hymn Transformations’ (1983), a style of composition that mutates Sacred Harp music with numerical repetitions based on geographical coordinates, here sung by The Western Wind vocal ensemble who famously performed works by Philip Glass. A euphonious passage from ‘Genesis Song’ (1968), a Māori poem translated by Jerome Rothenberg, taken from Morrow’s The Light Opera (1982), which included Min Tanaka’s Butoh dancers and a trio of jack hammers.
"In these chants, Charlie Morrow moves over new ground into the oldest habitation of man’s breath and voice. The exploration is very intense, very expended. He is teaching us a language that predates language, that grows as language itself must have grown in the music of the first shamans and poets. For this is very much a poet’s music: attentive to voice and to syllable, projecting them out where they can enter the process of healing and of waking in our own lives…. I admire Charlie Morrow’s concerns and his accomplishments, I rejoice to see him stalking his own voice as it leads him to what must be some of the most remarkable music of our time." - Jerome Rothenberg