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Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Scream of Whispers

An investigation of the ethereal, by Norah Lorway

20150516-norahl

The piece of music starts quiet and gets loud, but it’s less “whisper to a scream” than it is “scream of whispers.” The track is “GÃ¥ Væk” by Norah Lorway. It starts so near-silent that you might tick up your audio a few notches to compensate, only to soon be immersed in an ethereality so intense it brings to mind an old nugget of wisdom: a ton of feathers hits just as hard as a ton of bricks. Here the impact is, however, absolutely stimulating and enthralling.

Lots of music gets where Lorway’s track is headed, but many of her peers see fit to linger in the drone, to levitate on the expanse. That is, of course, a welcome and well-traveled approach. But Lorway goes considerably further. Once the maximum angelic white noise is achieved, which happens early on, she proceeds to investigate it, to probe it, pushing at swells, locating a high-pitched whine deep within, emphasizing elements, barely ever holding still. The piece is a master class in textural exploration and the illusion of stasis. The title of the track, “GÃ¥ Væk,” is in Danish, and she provides the following translations: “leaving; going away; everything mixes together; everything is new.” Everything is new, indeed.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/norahlo. More from Lorway, who is based in Birmingham, England, and Vancouver, Canada, at her website, norahlorway.com, as well as at norahlorway.bandcamp.com, vimeo.com/norahlorway, and her page at music.ubc.ca, The University of British Columbia, where she is a senior lecturer in composition and music technology. Lorway is one of the people behind Xylem Records (“a record label of electronic-based music”: xylemrecords.co.uk, xylemrecords.bandcamp.com) and its journal, Xylm.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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