Stuart Dempster

Dempster: Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel

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The reverberation length is so long (approximately 45 seconds) inside the 186-foot diameter cistern at Fort Worden, about 70 miles northwest of Seattle, that the composer describes the feeling as "this is where you have been forever and will always be forever". This engaging CD contains seven selections with Dempster playing solo on conch shell, didjeridu, and trombone, and in ensemble with nine other trombonists, two conch players and one on Tibetan cymbals. In the group pieces, the composer faced the players individually, played notes to imitate, or with head motions indicated to play something different or ignore what he was playing. "Conch Calling" is a solo piece, the first notes of which demonstrate the incredible nature of this two million gallon water tank. Dempster plays a remarkable series of tones and inflections with the conch creating an eerie and hypnotic atmosphere. "Morning Light" for solo trombone and an ensemble of nine trombones amassing major key clusters into a splendid sustained body with magnificent calls in the far distance. "Didjerilayover" features the evocative buzzing harmonics of the traditional Australian instrument. "Secret Currents" for solo trombone and trombone nonet slowly amasses tones in mixolydian mode creating a different prevading mood than the other sustained pieces. Calls occur toward the final section. "Melodic Communion" for solo trombone, Tibetan cymbals, and trombone nonet evokes the feeling of Tibetan chant with shared unisons and low massed clusters. Each of the 3 conch players in "Shell Shock" has an instrument with a different fundamental tuning which makes for wonderful melodic gestures between players as well as strange harmonies. The final selection "Cloud Landings" for solo trombone and trombone nonet begins and ends with a light single tone and amasses bright harmonies in its 16 minutes duration.

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