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Fred Frith - Rivers and Tides { working with time CD (album) cover

RIVERS AND TIDES { WORKING WITH TIME

Fred Frith

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Dean
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Retired Admin and Amateur Layabout
4 stars "Rivers and Tides { working with time" is the soundtrack from a film about British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy as he constructs and talks about various pieces of landscape sculpture and their relationship to natural elements of water over time.

Even though the music is split into 8 parts, melodic themes drift from one to another, or fade away to reappear later so that the individual parts flow together as a single 40 minute piece. It is the subtle change over time that is the basic premise of the film that also defines the music and allows it to stand alone without the accompaniment of the film itself. Short scratchy violin themes delicately mutate over the course of the piece, so that a slow laborious phrase from Part II becomes a shade softer and faster by Part IV and has blossomed into a jaunty refrain by Part VIII. Therefore, what appears to start as a haunting and ponderous piece of minimalism has become an upbeat (almost) folk tune by the end, skilfully leading the listener from the esoteric to the accessible before you realise what has happened. The result is still haunting, but it is also very beautiful.

I heard this music several years before seeing the film and there were a few elements in the composition that I initially found distracting. Frith composed the music against the final cut of the film, so what appears (when heard in isolation) to be almost random shifts and turns in the music, (together with the sporadic percussive sounds that seem so prevalent in music such as this), suddenly become meaningful and relevant when the film and music are combined. Similarly, the samples of running water and bleats of sheep that also occur as distractions in the music now fit with what is happening on the screen. Now I know the context of those distracting elements, I no longer find them distracting at all.

I want to give this a 3½ - Excellent, but see the DVD too, so to be fair I have rounded up to 4/5

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Send comments to Dean (BETA) | Report this review (#122450)
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2007 | Review Permalink

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