Boomkat Product Review:
Surreal and exquisite double album of pipe organ and bell reveries compiled by the ever inspiring Lieven Martens for his Edições Cn label. With bells arranged like arpeggios and the austere call of the organ pierced by the sounds of birdsong and life wafting in from outside, it’s a stunning. life-affirming reappraisal of sacred music tipped if you’re into Laura Cannell, Delphine Dora, Maxime Denuc.
‘The Pels Organ and Hemony Carillon’ was recorded and compiled by Lieven Martens and Mia Prce as a soundtrack for the unveiling of a woven tapestry created by artist Joris Martens for the city hall of Hoogstraten, Belgium. Over two Saturdays at St. Catherine's Church, Miaux, Lieven and Martens assembled to present their hybrid performance. The woven tapestry was displayed in the church as Miaux played organ, while visitors outside were treated to the sounds of town carillonneur Luc Dockx, who recited Lieven's unusual compositions. The album is a recorded document of the event, including a 32-page booklet with text and photography on the 2CD edition.
Miaux's organ recitals - inspired by Vangelis, Popol Vuh and Angelo Badalamenti - sound quietly delirious through the resonance of the building, mimicking church music but using entirely non-traditional modes of composition. In contrast, Lieven's material opens the windows into the open streets, with birdsong accompanying Luc Dockx's expert carillon clangs. The Belgian composer came up with an unusual way to write his pieces, loading bird sounds into software that analysed and converted them into musical notes. It's his way of celebrating the work of Oliver Messiaen, the legendary French composer, organ player and ornithologist who tutored Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez, among others. Messiaen was fascinated by two things: religion and birds. In fact he believed they were God's own vocalists.
Recorded by microphones set up in the street, the bells merge with actual birdsong and muted traffic drones, giving us the feeling that we're standing in the middle of Hoogstraten. The way Lieven's compositions shift the focus away from church music or chocolate box renditions of popular classical themes makes us reconsider the carillon entirely, abstracting it into rich tonal clusters and resonant trills.
If you’ve been moved by Sarah Davachi's early music mutations (her last album 'Two Sisters' also used the carillon) or Laura Cannell's instrumental reinterpretations of birdsong on last year's 'Antiphony of the Trees', 'The Pels Organ and Hemony Carillon' is a beautiful, worthy companion.