Dreamlife of Debris

Kit Downes

CD18,90 add to cart
LP24,90 out of print
EN / DE
Dreamlife of Debris carries forward the story begun on Kit Downes’s Obsidian, extending and developing its processes and core ideas. But where Obsidian was (almost exclusively) a solo church organ album, part of Kit’s plan for Dreamlife was to put the organ in a broader context, and also to bring the piano into the larger compositional picture.  Musicians in the project are primarily players with whom Downes has had long associations – saxophonist Tom Challenger, cellist Lucy Railton, drummer Seb Rochford – and there is also a first musical encounter with Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus.   “I was interested to see how bringing in different people would change the direction of the recording.”
Dreamlife of Debris setzt die auf Kit Downes’ ECM-Debüt Obsidian begonnene Geschichte fort und erweitert und entwickelt ihre Kernideen weiter. Aber wo Obsidian (fast ausschließlich) ein Solo-Kirchenorgelalbum war, war es Teil von Kits Plan für Dreamlife, die Orgel in einen breiteren Kontext zu stellen und auch das Klavier in das größere kompositorische Gesamtbild einzubringen.  
An diesem Projekt sind in erster Linie Musiker beteiligt, mit denen Downes seit langem in Verbindung steht – Saxophonist Tom Challenger, Cellist Lucy Railton, Schlagzeuger Seb Rochford – es gibt aber auch eine musikalische Erstbegegnung: mit dem norwegischen Gitarristen Stian Westerhus. "Ich war gespannt, wie das Einbeziehen unterschiedicher Partner die Richtung der Aufnahme verändern würde."  Dreamlife of Debris erscheint als CD und LP.
Featured Artists Recorded

November 2018, St. Paul's Hall, University of Huddersfield

Original Release Date

25.10.2019

  • 1Sculptor
    (Kit Downes)
    06:01
  • 2Circinus
    (Kit Downes)
    04:15
  • 3Pinwheel
    (Kit Downes)
    04:07
  • 4Bodes
    (Kit Downes)
    12:41
  • 5Sunflower
    (Kit Downes)
    02:31
  • 6M7
    (Ruth Goller)
    05:25
  • 7Twin
    (Kit Downes)
    04:24
  • 8Blackeye
    (Kit Downes, Tom Challenger)
    05:16
When keyboardist Kit Downes released ‘Obsidian’ last year on ECM, it was a stunning album.  He investigated three separate pipe organs of various sizes and the acoustic properties of each church, and the compositions yielded some provocative and stimulating music. With ‘Dreamlife Of Debris’ the follow up to last year’s effort, Downes utilizes not only the pipe organ once again from St. John’s the Baptist in Snape but  also piano, his main instrument.  The music is an expansion of that found on ‘Obsidian’ by Downes surrounding the keyboards with Tom Challenger on tenor saxophone (playing a larger role than the former album) cellist Lucy Railton, guitarist Stian Westerhus, and ECM regular, drummer Sebastian Rochford. […] The sound stage is quite large with aerated piano, massive organ with the forceful sound of air moving through pipes, ghost like guitar, present cello, and saxophone.  The album is most certainly reference quality and will thrill audiophiles […] The pipe organ is a incredible vessel for composition as a forefather of the modern synthesizer.   Through a unique blend of organ, piano, tenor saxophone, cello, guitar and drums it is a journey through the unconscious where one is confronted with everything. The chamber aspect of most of the compositions does blur the line between the written and improvised and is performed in such a way that it is unclear where one line ends and the next begins.  Through this masterful use of blurred lines the listener to focus on the arresting array of tones and textures used to convey the message.
CJ Shearn, Jazz Views (Ten out of ten stars)
 
Kit Downes, who topped the categories Rising Star–Keyboard and Rising Star–Organ in the 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll, turns in his second leader date for the venerated ECM Records, ‘Dreamlife Of Debris’, and rather easily coaxes spirited exhortations and divine simplicity out of a piano, as well as a church organ. But it’s the combination of Downes’ ghostly organ turns and the placid longtones of Tom Challenger’s tenor saxophone that make the album’s title such a fitting thing. […] the bandleader’s own ‘Circinus’ finds his organ copping some uncluttered version of decades-old austerity, while cellist Lucy Railton bows the changes and Challenger’s horn sweeps through emotions. It’s a sturdy formula that peaceably works throughout the recording.
A couple of tunes set Downes at an acoustic piano, his bandmates helping to mimic the dark and dour image of the album cover. ‘Blackeye,’ the closer where Downes and Challenger split writing credits, opens with a contemplative feeling that’s not just pervasive here, but across a bunch of ECM works. The pair and Railton float around on clouds for about a minute-and-a-half; then 15 seconds of silence. Downes switches to organ and, making his most concerted contribution to ‘Dreamlife’, Seb Rochford comes padding in on an augmented kit that sounds like it largely consists of toms and a gong. It’s Moondog territory, and it sends the band toward its most propulsive, songlike statements. It’s also the most aggressive-sounding composition Downes has recorded on either of his leader dates for ECM. It still might not be a jazz tune, but ‘Blackeye’ is a deeply affecting sonic turn that’s a surprise and a nod toward less experimental works—if only just vaguely.
Dave Cantor, Downbeat (Editor’s Pick)
 
Het is de kracht van de uitdaging, verbeelding en muziekbeleving die ‘Dreamlife of Debris’ zo onvoorspelbaar en aantrekkelijk maakt. Muziek geschreven en uitgevoerd met een vrije geest en in ongebreidelde onvoorspelbare composities omgezet. Wederom weet Downes de muzikale bakens flink te verzetten en flinke indruk achter te laten.
(It is the power of the challenge, imagination and music experience that makes ‘Dreamlife of Debris’ so unpredictable and attractive. Music written and performed with a free spirit and transformed into unbridled unpredictable compositions. Again Downes knows how to move the musical beacons and leave a big impression.)
Dick Hovenga, Written in music
 
Kit Downes verschlägt den Zuhörer in rätselhafte Szenarien. Auf der Kirchenorgel, die er ungewöhnlich – leise, schwerelos, nahezu entmaterialisisert – spielt, am Piano, auf dem er rhapsodierende Wellen schlägt, und in der Interaktion mit Saxofon, Cello, E-Gitarre und Schlagzeug lässt er einen spirituellen Klangraum entstehen. Ein Refugium, in dem die Zeit aufgehoben zu sein scheint: Choralartige Akkordfolgen führen zurück in archaische Vergangenheit, meditative Minimal-Music-Muster kreisen um die Ewigkeit, abstrakte, zum Teil elektronische Klang-Collagen weisen in futuristische Fernen. […] Faszinierend.
Georg Spindler, Mannheimer Morgen
 
The album is drawn from sessions recorded at two UK locations – the 13th century church of St John the Baptist in the village of Snape in the Suffolk countryside and St Paul’s Hall (a converted 19th century church) at Huddersfield University – where the musicians arrived to variously interact with Downes. The instrumentalists meet – as Downes puts it – ‘in a space with no singular character’, with a dream-like ambience being created through overdubs and collage. Although the players do not come together as an ensemble, their appearance as individuals in changing constellations influences the direction of the shape-shifting music triggered by Downes’s improvising, arranging and composing. The intuitive, effortlessly ethereal understanding between Downes and saxophonist Challenger is built on years of performing and recording together, and it shows. When two musicians of this calibre share the same wavelength at an identical moment in time, the results, as heard here, are quite simply stunning. […] The music on ‘Dreamlife of Debris’ has a timeless quality to it that is a rare gift. Immerse yourself in it and you will be carried away by its beauty. It has intrigue, it has depth, it has wonder. It is unique – even for an ECM release.
Mike Gates, UK Vibe
 
Downes entwirft tranquile Klangperspektiven, die einerseits Jan Garbareks Alben aus den 1970er Jahren in Erinnerung rufen, andererseits in ihrer Linearität durchaus in einer Korrelation zur aktuellen elektronischen und Ambientmusik stehen. Seinen imaginierten Räumen haftet etwas Sakrales an, dem man sich unabhängig von jeder religiösenoder nicht-religiösen Prädisposition hingeben kann. Die statische Schönheit, introspective Nachdenklichkeit und verklärte Transparenz dieser Musik birgt den Kern eines neuen Klassizismus, der sich aber auch einer gewissen Jugendlichkeit nicht verschließt.
Wolf Kampmann, Eclipsed
 
Die Musik von Downes gewinnt durch die Mitstreiter an Raum und Wirkung. Statt dauerpräsent zu sein, kann der Pianist seine Melodien dosieren und effektiver einsetzen. Zudem ist vor allem das Spiel des Tenor-Saxofonisten Challenger sowie des Gitarristen Westerns eine willkommene Bereicherung im Klangkosmos seiner Kompositionen. Das entrückte ‘Circinus’ zum Beispiel entwickelt im Zusammenspiel der drei Melodie-Instrumente einen hypnotischen Sog, der nachhallt. […] klanglich haftet den Aufnahmen auch in Bandbesetzung etwas Sakrales an, das über die eigentliche Musik hinausdeutet. Und so ist ‘Dreamlife Of Debris’ alles in allem eine stimmige Weiterentwicklung der auf ‘Obsidian’ gepflanzten Vision von Downes. Die Wertschätzung für diesen talentierten Exoten dürfte also mit dieser Platte weiter steigen.
Sebastian Meißner, Sounds and Books
 
Mit wechselnden Partnern schuf er im November 2018 in zwei englischen Kirchen acht Klanggespinste, die sich weder in die Gepflogenheiten der neuen Kammermusik noch in jene des Jazz einfügen. Dezente Töne von Percussion, Saxophon, Cello oder Elektrogitarre rutschen abwechselnd oder gemeinsam in Downes meditatives Orgelspiel und schaffen eine Klangwelt der Integration und nicht – wie zu erwarten wäre – der Begegnung. Diese Atmosphäre bleibt, wenn Downes Klavier spielt.
Werner Stiefele, Stereoplay
 
The austere sonority of the church organ isn’ t something that would seem a  natural fit with jazz (being better suited to the choppy sound of the Hammond), but it has been utilized to good effect in the past, notably by Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek. On ‘Dreamlife of Debris’ pianist Kit Downes continues his exploration of the unique timbres the church organ can offer and has surrounded himself with a top-flight group of improvisers; Tom Challenger (tenor saxophone), Stian Westerhus (guitar), Lucy Railton (cello), Sebastian Rochford (drums). Downes has played in duo capacities with Challenger, Railton and Rochford over the years, and there is the unmistakable sense of all involved being perfectly at home in Downes’s idiom.
Matt Groom, Presto Jazz (Recording of the Week)
 
Die Musik von Downes gewinnt durch die Mitstreiter an Raum und Wirkung. Statt dauerpräsent zu sein, kann der Pianist seine Melodien dosieren und effektiver einsetzen. Zudem ist vor allem das Spiel des Tenor-Saxofonisten Challenger sowie des Gitarristen Westerhus eine willkommene Bereicherung im Klangkosmos seiner Kompositionen. […] Aufgenommen wurde das Album zum einen in der Church of St. John the Baptist in Snape im ländlichen Suffolk und zum anderen in der St. Paul’s Hall, einer umgebauten Kirche der University of Huddersfield. Auch die Wahl dieser historischen Orte trägt zum Zauber der Aufnahmen bei. Denn klanglich haftet den Aufnahmen auch in Bandbesetzung etwas Sakrales an, das über die eigentliche Musik hinausdeutet. Und so ist ‘Dreamlife Of Debris’ alles in allem eine stimmige Weiterentwicklung der auf ‘Obsidian’ gepflanzten Vision von Downes. Die Wertschätzung für diesen talentierten Exoten dürfte also mit dieser Platte weiter steigen.
Sebastian Meißner, Sounds and Books
 
Inspired, Downes conjures spectral soundscapes and fluctuating moods with sparse piano cadences, rhythmic understatement and the unmistakable sonics of an English parish church organ […] Tom Challenger’s airy resonance on tenor sax, Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus’s synthesized unease and, on ‘Pinwheel’, Lucy Railton’s scratchy cello sustains all complete the album’s ethereal aesthetic. […] the album is dominated by the modulating textures of keyboards and sax improvising freely or post-produced into otherworldly soundscapes.
Mike Hobart, Financial Times
 
Kit Downes follows 2018’s ‘Obsidian’ album, an idiosyncratic solo exploration of the pipe organ, with this quintet work of other-worldly beauty. Although largely improvised around pre-written themes (the pieces are named after galaxies), studio edits and overlays were used to heighten the sound’s celestial textures. Downes stays at the centre of the music and, while sax player Tom Challenger is never far away, the other players move in and out of orbit. […] The programme is consummated by ‘Blackeye’, Rochford’s snare and splashing ride cymbals assailing the organ’s grandiose edifice of sound. It is jazz – but not as we know it.
Garry Booth,  BBC Music Magazine (five stars)
 
Ein entrückendes Erlebnis voller klanglicher Delikatessen, zu denen neben dem einzigen Orgel-Solo-Track, ‘M 7’ seiner Gattin Ruth Goller, auch das finale ‘Blackeye’ zählt. Man muss Kit Downes für seine ungewöhnlich originellen Kammerjazz-Preziosen demütig bewundern.
Sven Thielmann, Fono Forum
 
Manchmal verträumt, bisweilen unheimlich, stellenweise sakral, bearbeitet Downes mit seinen Mitstreitern – darunter sein langjähriger Improvisationspartner Tom Challenger am Tenorsaxophon – die Oberflächenbeschaffenheit seiner Kompositionen durch feinste improvisierte Zwiegespräche. Hier treffen sich Jazz und Neue Musik auf einer atmosphärisch so dicht gesponnenen Ebene, dass sich bei jedem Wiederhören neue, ungeahnte Perspektiven eröffnen.
Rudolf Amstutz, Jazz’n’More
Dreamlife of Debris carries forward the story begun on Kit Downes’s Obsidian, extending and developing its processes and core ideas. But where Obsidian was (almost exclusively) a solo church organ album, part of Kit’s plan for Dreamlife was to put the organ in a broader context, and also to bring the piano into the larger compositional picture. Musicians in the project are primarily players with whom the British keyboardist has had long associations – saxophonist Tom Challenger, cellist Lucy Railton, drummer Seb Rochford – and there is also a first musical encounter with Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus.
 
The album is drawn from sessions recorded at two UK locations – the 13th century church of St John the Baptist in the village of Snape in the Suffolk countryside and St Paul’s Hall (a converted 19th century church) at Huddersfield University – where the musicians arrived to variously interact with Downes. The instrumentalists meet – as Downes puts it – “in a space with no singular character”, with a dream-like ambience being created through overdubs and collage. Although the players do not come together as an ensemble, their appearance as individuals in changing constellations influences the direction of the shape-shifting music triggered by Downes’s improvising, arranging and composing.
 
Saxophonist Tom Challenger, who had a cameo role on Obsidian, has more to contribute here, not only featured as one of the primary instrumental voices but also co-composing the concluding track, “Blackeye”. Downes and Challenger had maintained an organ/sax duo for eight years prior to Dreamlife. With the present project, Downes brings the piano also into the picture. The bright opening section of “Sculptor”, the first track here, rings the changes, with alert sparkling piano gradually dissolving into organ drones.
 
Lucy Railton, previously heard with Kit on the ECM debut of Thomas Strønen’s ensemble Time Is A Blind Guide (2015), has also played Downes’s compositions for piano and cello in their duo Tricko. As a lapsed cellist– he’d played the instrument himself as a child – Kit says he takes a vicarious pleasure in writing for Railton, as can be deduced from the elegant “Pinwheel”.
 
The association between Seb Rochford and Downes – revived here on “Blackeye” – goes back a decade to a period when Kit occasionally played with the rock-influenced jazz group Acoustic Ladyland. Rochford drummed for that ensemble; the bassist was Ruth Goller, who contributes the haunting composition “M7” to Dreamlife, which Kit plays on solo organ, underlining the connections to Obsidian.
 
Guitarist Stian Westerhus was integrated into the project for a final session of improvising in Huddersfield. A mysterious presence, his sounds bubble to the fore in the middle of the track called “Bodes.”
 
*
 
Kit Downes was an organ scholar at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich before going on to study piano, organ and composition at the Purcell School and the Royal Academy of Music. He recorded and toured widely with the band Empirical while also working with – among others Django Bates and Lee Konitz.
 
He has led and co-led a number of groups in the last decade, including the trios Troyka and Quiet Tiger, the Neon Quartet (with Stan Sulzmann), and the quintet Light From Old Stars. Current projects include, in addition to solo piano and pipe organ performances, collaborations with saxophonist Tom Challenger, cellist Lucy Railton, composer Shiva Feshareki and with the band Enemy with Petter Eldh and James Maddren. More details at his web site: www.kitdownes.com
 
The recipient of a number of prizes, including the BBC Jazz award and the British Jazz Award, Kit Downes was a made a Fellow of the Royal Academy in their Honours List of 2019. In the DownBeat International Critics Poll of 2019, he was voted # 1 Rising Star in both Piano and Keyboard categories.
 
Downes presents music from Dream Life of Debris at concerts including the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (November 21), MAC Theatre, Birmingham (December 5), Anteros Arts, Norwich (December 6), and King’s Place, London (December 7).
YEAR DATE VENUE LOCATION
2024 April 24 Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Germany
2024 April 27 SoddJazz Festival Inderøy, Norway
2024 May 11 Vic Festival Vic, Spain
2024 May 12 XJAZZ Festival Berlin, Germany
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