The majority of my professional life is spent working with dance: it’s something I love deeply, in all its many forms, and I remain in constant awe of the dedication of dancers. When the 2020 lockdown kicked in, I felt the loss of the time usually spent in dance studios very keenly. I found myself imagining a lone musician in a deserted theatre, like a kind of medicine man, throwing sounds into the space in an attempt to conjure up the ghosts of dancers no longer present, to breathe movement into stillness. I set about creating a sequence of music based around this idea, and ended up with this set of nineteen largely improvised short pieces.
The music begins with a simple theme (played on Japanese temple bowls and toy piano) which featured in a ballet score I made for choreographer Mikaela Polley and Images Ballet Company for a tour in 2019. The pieces that follow include seven vibraphone solos, effectively variations on that original theme, and ten other percussion pieces, all played sitting at a small drum kit (though they don’t all sound like that). The sequence closes with a return to the toy piano.
I’ve named the vibraphone pieces using various words for spells or enchantments, and the other pieces after words for spirits or ghosts. Much of the music is very quiet and mysterious but there are plenty of more energetic and playful episodes. This album is dedicated to all the dancers I have played music for, but in particular to Sue Booker, Leesa Philips, and Buddy Watkins who many years ago helped a young musician figure out what the hell he was meant to be doing in a dance studio.