Marshall is a true master of the electronic idiom, making much from little and evoking experiences inaccessible through other sound media, but with a very human dimension.
Edward Strickland’s booklet-note begins with a ‘Confession’: ‘I’m not a great fan of electronic music. I flee much of it, shrug off most of it, revisit little of it. Yet I find myself returning to Ingram Marshall’s work, principally because the music sounds like the product of a human being, and one who conveys a sense of depth as well as breadth of experience.’ Apart from the fact that this was my first encounter with Marshall, I echo every word.
He is a product of the East Coast ’60s electronic community of Davidovsky, Ussachevsky andRead more Morton Subotnick (anyone remember Silver Apples of the Moon ?), and every piece recorded here dates from the mid-1970s. Their human element is in part declared by the texts, which are either clearly declaimed and fully comprehensible, as the poem at the heart of Cortez, or else provide raw material for electronic manipulation, as in Weather Report, based on a Danish voice heard on Norwedian radio, or Cries Upon the Mountains, based on calls of shepherds in the mountains of Norway and Sweden. Usually it’s a bit of both.
Marshall’s Nordic affinities are further declared in Sibelius in his Radio Corner, a haunting study inspired by a photograph of the composer during his famous ‘silence of Jarvenpaa’ and fashioned around a passage from his Sixth Symphony. In general, it is dark-hued, cavernous pieces such as this and IKON that impress me most. But there’s also humour, of a kind, in The Emperor’s Birthday, which records and fragments a conversation between a New York ethnographer and his African interviewee, and whose whimsy some will probably find less irksome than I did.
Marshall loves to oscillate between the familiar meaning of words and their potential musicality as pure sound and rhythm. His works are impressive not just for their ingenuity in making much from little, but for their evocation of experiences not accessible through any other sound medium.
Apart from Strickland’s essay and notes by the composer on each piece, the booklet includes a helpful short bibliography for anyone who cares to follow up with further study.'