In a first for the ever-developing #EarBox series that brings together music and visual art, the next event on Thursday 24 May features the hypnotic soundscape of Night Liminal, an electroacoustic piece by Simon Cummings inspired by the transitional period of Compline, which will be unveiled in the sepulchral environs of Studio 3 Gallery.
Released in 2012, the piece is an enthralling sound-odyssey, a slow-moving exploration of the mystery of the ever-changing moment. Like drifting clouds, sounds blossom gradually, changing as they grow in a way that reflects the creeping changing of shadows as daylight fades and dusk draws on. The overall effect is evocative, hypnotic, creating an equivocal space in which the listener is invited to dwell, but not making it clear whether they should be wholly comfortable. That’s not to suggest that the aural experience is unpleasant; in fact, like a bitter sweetness, it’s a welcoming one that hovers lightly between both sensations. Somehow, it taps into an almost medieval fear of encroaching darkness whilst making the process of change an enchanting one.
Composer Simon Cummings talks about how ‘being in a sacred space at dusk is a profound and paradoxical experience, comforting yet unsettling. One is caught between light and darkness … The night can be a dangerous and uncharted place.’
The glacial grandeur to the soundscape of Night Liminal captures this paradox perfectly. The piece exists in that ambivalent space between tranquil serenity and quiet fear as it maps the process of perceptual change. As an electroacoustic piece, it both harks back to that hard-wired historic fear whilst opening up an undeniably modern space for secure reflection. And make no mistake: the surface soundscape of this piece is beautiful; lulling, warm and utterly, well, bewitching, as you can hear for yourself here.
Dedicated to the memory of organist and composer Jehan Alain, the piece lasts just under forty minutes and will unfold against the backdrop of Studio 3 Gallery’s new exhibition, Enhancing the Frame, which opened last week.
Whether as an aid to active meditation or passive relaxation, my hope is that this music can become an integral part of the gloaming, teasing out and resonating with both its delights and its uncertainties in a gentle act of quiet provocation and peace.
Admission to #EarBox is free, and the event begins at 1.10pm. Prepare for an immersive experience of contemplative listening; more details online here.