Boomkat Product Review:
Following a revelatory vinyl pressing of Mary Jane Leach’s Pipe Dreams on Die Schachtel’s Blume series in 2017, the pivotal Downtown Ensemble member’s stunning chamber suite Celestial Fires  is now made available for reappraisal on download format thru the XI series of Phill Niblock’s Experimental Intermedia Foundation.
Where Pipe Dreams, which arguably introduced Leach’s music to a raft of new listeners, displayed two longer form aspects of her oeuvre, Celestial Fires revolves six works ranging between 8 and 13 minutes in length, with each serving to absorbingly broaden our understanding of her output, which will be thrillingly new to many ears.
With captivating attention to the physicality of sound, specifically the voice, Leach’s six pieces explore a wide range of carefully precise timbres generated by he angelic chorales of the New York Treble Singers, conducted by Virginia Davidson in four 8-part pieces for a cappella women’s voices, along with one written for bassoon and another for flute and voice.
The vocal works are hauntingly gorgeous, particularly the quietly breathtaking ascent of Green Mountain Madrigal and the ecstatic, windswept nature of Ariel’s Song, while Leach’s own vocals also appear on the standout Trio For Duo, paired with the alto flute of Barbara Held in ten minutes of almost static but subtly keening tones moving like gaseous hues across the stereo field.