Boomkat Product Review:
Kit Downes’ wondrous explorations of Suffolk church organs’ lower case accents and hidden voices, teamed with field recordings and sympathetic free sax improvisations by Tom Challenger. Yet another engaging ace from the fringes and fronds of modern classical composition presented by the Slip squad.
“'Vyamanikal' is the Slip debut of Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: a collection of transcendent improvisations where the primordial moans and whistles of remote organs meld with gossamer saxophone.
Recorded at 5 Suffolk churches during a 2015 Aldeburgh Music residency, 'Vyamanikal' deftly explores the native nuances and acoustics of 6 organs and their surrounding environment. Downes’ organ playing is alternately delicate and thunderous, teasing out unearthly vibrations from converted harmoniums and mighty, century-old 3 manual organs like Framlingham’s ‘Thamar Organ’. Challenger’s sax lines act as a conduit between the instrument and their locale, probing errant pipe tones for interferences, and embellishing distant birdsong.
Named after the ancient Sanskrit term for flying machines - ‘Vaimānika Shāstra’ - the pair’s second release since 2012’s Wedding Music celebrates music-making at its most meditative and transient.
Kit and Tom have performed together at the Royal Festival Hall, Café OTO, The London Contemporary Music Festival, Cologne Philharmonie, Swaledale Music Festival, and been broadcasted live on the BBC. 'Vyamanikal'’s forthcoming dates include Aldeburgh Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, and Norway’s Stavanger Organ Day.”