Boomkat Product Review:
Canada’s Blake Hargreaves summons the almighty power of Europe’s auld pipe organs in his spellbinding suite of improvisations recorded in churches in Genova, Höchst, Den Haag, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Frankfurt. Make no mistake though, this is no hard academic exercise, this one’s on a pop tip, think about when Kara-Lis Coverdale talked about re-arranging hymns with a bit of Drake, or as the label put it "...as sweet as Schubert!”
Among the most enchanting recordings of organ music we’ve heard among a recent groundswell of pipe organ works by everyone from Kara-Lis Coverdale, Maria W. Horn and Kali Malone to Áine O’Dwyer and Stefan Fraunberger; ‘Improvisations On The Pipe Organs Of Europe’ sees Hargreaves play up to the unwieldy, ancient instrument’s classical forms while also leaning towards its more experimental, contemporary, processed examples. The results in effect give voice to the pipe organs as they have been used for hundreds of years, to manipulate congregations and install the fear of god, or some “other” presence (essentially infrasound), and their appeal is fittingly timeless and haunting.
The minuet at Justinuskirche, Höchste is a particular highlight with its playful yet stately sense of pomp primed for a vintage horror flick, while Berceuse at Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, Paris makes more meditative use of the pipe organ’s capacity for droning low end, as does the wonderfully pensile, floating performance documented in Serenade at Saint-Louie-en-l’île, Paris, whereas Noctunmre at Basilica sv Petra a Pavla Praha focusses on tremulous higher registers with incisively synaesthetic and weightless effect, and Meditation at KunstKulturKirche Allerheiligen, Frankfurt am Main puts its organ thru a deeply sombre and funereal procession.
Ultimately, the recordings are just very easy to listen to and could hardly sound more apt for the time of year when we wanna zone out. aye.