Alan Lamb

Original Masters: Night Passage

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Alan Lamb's compositions from telegraph wires is one of the more powerful examples of long wire music. Unlike wire composers Ellen Fullman or Paul Panhuysen, Lamb uses large outdoor installations and the natural wind currants to gather his original recordings, which he then assembles in the studio to create his extended pieces. Night Passage and Last Anzac both use the Faraway Wind Organ, a ten-mile stretch of abandoned telegraph wires that Lamb found and purchased in Western Australia in the mid-1970s. Night Passage is very dramatic, using crashes of metal on metal, the crackling of the telegraph poles, and enormous reverberation to create an organic but stormy sense of the wild Australian outback. Last Anzac retains the reverberation, but has very few of the metallic events that punctuate Night Passage, concentrating more on the drones created by the wires as they are blown about in the wind. "Meditation on Spring 8" was played on a wind organ built for a Japanese festival celebrating the opening of the SPring 8 Synchotron, a huge electron accelerator built in Kobe. Lamb briefly discusses the uniqueness of each wind organ, and one can hear this difference in this recording. The Meditation is quieter, more harmonious, bringing out the natural harmonics of the long wires. Lamb plays the wind organ with a bamboo bow, but below the drones one can hear the water from a typhoon that struck the area around the festival, drying on the wires. All three pieces on this album use the wind and wires to communicate a majesty that is difficult to achieve only using studios and electronics. These qualities make Lamb's pieces outstanding examples of a music that seeks to plays on a connection with nature, the decaying manmade infrastructure, and contemporary sound art.

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