Nigel Samways: Poor Henrietta Marie
Hibernate / Ephre

One of the things that distinguishes English sound artist Nigel Samways' work from others is that he doesn't use the field recording as merely a decorative add-on to his musical material; instead, the field recording functions as the nucleus for the musical fabric woven around it. Poor Henrietta Marie perfectly exemplifies the approach. If at first the three-inch EP (available in only a fifty-copy run) seems oddly titled, it turns out to be anything but, as Samways built the piece up from a recording he made of a girl singing “Wade in the Water” while busking on a street in Lewes. Supplementing that material with magnetic tape, computer processing, and live instruments, Samways creates a dream-like twenty-two-minute suite that finds the girl's exhalation repeatedly resounding within a slipstream of glassy haze and abandoned mansion-like noisemongering. Dense winds blow through the EP's dusty corridors while rain dribbles and drizzles beyond its walls, after which the singer soulfully serenades herself into a trance amidst rivulets of shimmering organ tones until the piece crawls to an unsettling, funereal close. Likening the recording to an aural hallucinogen wouldn't be too far off the mark.

April 2010