Boomkat Product Review:
Following last year’s incredible, all-vocal 'Sing As The Crow Flies' collaboration with Polly Wright, Laura Cannell returns with a new album improvised and recorded in single takes inside Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, London, over two days in February & March 2019. Cannell does something special here, re-contextualising riffs on early music within cavernous, industrial surroundings and somehow managing to tap into a well of suppressed emotion where there could so easily have just been hollow formality. Some of the most quietly moving and aesthetically provocative records in this field we’ve heard for a while - huge recommendation.
"In late 2018 composer, performer and improviser Laura Cannell was commissioned by The Wapping Project to capture the resonance of their former building through her improvised music, it would be the final project in response to the iconic space that defined their commissioning for over two decades. Entering the cavernous building armed with violins and recorders, Cannell had no preconceived ideas and The Earth With Her Crowns emerged from the conversations with the space itself. The recording came at a time of personal grief after the sudden loss of a loved one. Overwhelming feelings of loss and anxiety were charged into sound inside the resonant power station: "The cold air of the power station felt alive with a nervous energy. It felt like an opportunity to express something at a time when talking had been useless," she says.
The Power Station is beneath London flight paths and alongside the Thames, and Cannell explored the Boiler House, Coal Store and Filter House, standing in the centre amongst walls of glazed and raw brick, with freezing breath, in a vast space below water level. Double recorders, voice, violin and the drone of overbow violin filled the cathedral-like space, which captured, amplified and resonated their sounds, bringing them alive and sculpturing moment by moment, note by note. "Standing on thresholds in the archways between spaces and under the suspended stairs with low notes and high notes flying I played in the moment, allowing the sound to branch off like ancient waterways, I was led by the acoustics of the space to sounds that were self-sustaining, free flowing and changeable. Clear glass panes reflected and returned my offerings of string and air, uttered from fingers and lungs.Tonnes of water once passed through here to power London, and the space is never silent, the sound of the living city outside occasionally entering through porous brick, steel and glass. I found it to be a proud structure, and it was an honour to hear its responses to my questions.” Laura Cannell, March 2019"