27 August 2015
Invisible Wilderness and other projects
Rae Howell writes about her new double album Invisible Wilderness, as well as other recent projects. Rae celebrates the new album with a tour - event details in the AMC Calendar: 18 September (Melbourne), 24 September (Sydney); 26 September (Wauchope, NSW) and 2 October (Brisbane).
It's been quite some time since I've written about my music and sound ventures, so here's a little glimpse of what I've been doing and what's coming up. I've been based in London (four years now by golly), immersed in a huge range of projects that have seen me travel to many interesting and inspiring places. I completed a Master of Music at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama a while back, and although I'm (once again) juggling freelance hats of all shapes and sizes from creative work to business admin, I am incredibly grateful for the myriad experiences I seem to dance around, seek out and attract, just when I think things are slowing down.
I've been fortunate to undertake a number of residencies in
different parts of the world over the past few years: Gambia,
West Africa, where I learned the four different music traditions
of Susu, Mandinka, Wollof and Fula, a joyous immersion into the
complexities of West African rhythms; Argentina, with a group of
outstanding musicians from La Sonora (in La Plata), absorbed in
Candombe, tngo and Argentinian folklore music; and Palestine, at
the Edward Said National Conservatorium of Music, where I
collaborated with a group of remarkable Palestinian musicians,
devising a concert of new music for performance, discovering the
intricacies of Arabic music and Palestinian music traditions and
running workshops for local charities and schools. Needless to
say these experiences were rich with inspiration, immersive, and
In 2014 I released an electronic album with NY sonic and video artist Jon Cohrs. Together we form 'Rabbitsss', a collaboration that began when we were in residence at the Banff Centre in Canada in 2006. Often in different parts of the world, much of our work was initially created remotely, before meeting in NY, Berlin, Sweden, or wherever (!), whenever we found ourselves in the same place at the same time. Thankfully our debut album is out and we'll be following this next year with some as-yet unreleased material, recorded live (vibraphone and electronics) on a rooftop in Brooklyn NY.
Aside from these ventures, I've also been back and forth to Australia, for a project on the mid-north coast of NSW called Frugal Forest, led by artist Bryony Anderson (One Off Makery). I'm creating the soundtrack for the project, which will culminate in a large scale gallery installation of an intricately detailed forest, made entirely from salvaged/recycled materials. Working with a local emerging composer Ben Robinson, we've created a foley score using recycled materials, shaping the soundtrack to correlate with a 24-hour cycle of the rainforest through sound and weather patterns. I've researched birds, frogs and all sorts of animals of the forest, commensurate to the climate and have been fortunate to see some of the incredible work that One Off Makery has created, along with over 600 crafty participants. The installation opens in January 2016 at the Glasshouse in Port Macquarie and will be touring around galleries in NSW for the 18 months or more following.
Most recently I worked with Shakespeare's Globe theatre department in London, directing music rehearsals for a forthcoming production of Oresteia, and as I write this I'm undertaking a residency to create the sound for a gallery installation in London, for visual artist Alexander James (Distil Ennui). More news on that when it's complete! Of course, there's been many other projects weaving in and out of the above, but foremost is my current solo project.
In a few short weeks I'll be on the move, touring my new records in Australia, a solo album release (recorded in Minneapolis, USA, due out September). Invisible Wilderness is a double volume record which features a selection of my piano and keyboard works. Volume I was recorded on a Steinway concert grand at Sundin Hall (Hamline University, St Paul, Minnesota) and is accompanied by a sheet music publication of 12 works, available digitally and in printed book format (via Sunwrae). The recording of Volume II is more abstract, sidestepping the traditional piano sound, performed on a Fender Rhodes and various ramshackle upright pianos, that immerse the listener in different textures, including the hammers, felts and pedalling (featuring the natural reverb of the sostenuto and celeste pedals). It's been some time in production, so I'm quite relieved the launch is imminent as I'm brimming with new ideas for my next ventures!
I've also just launched a new website for personal projects at www.raehowellmusic.com.
Howell - AMC profile
Rae Howell - homepage (www.raehowellmusic.com)
Invisible Wilderness - album and sheet music details (UK-based raehowellmusic.com). Also available through Australian-based Sunwrae Ensemble website.
© Australian Music Centre (2015) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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