Blue by Simon McCorry is an album of contrasting halves. One half of the music is made with live cello performances, fed through loops and guitar effects. The other is a collection of manipulated recordings of the bells of Gloucester Cathedral. Both methods show an artist careful and considered in the way his sound is crafted.
The album notes state that Blue aims to ‘fight against the confines of artificial mechanical time – time as defined by clocks and metronomes – or rather ignore it and the expectation of pulse, metre and regularity’. Each note allowed a natural lifespan in a smear of shifting bowed cello loops and reorganised bell clusters. The unhurried meditative pace of Arvo Part runs through Blue, or at least its cello sections. Graceful melodic lines writhe above a fidgeting bed of loops interacting in complex harmony. Arco buzz and squeaking gliss adds engaging texture. The cello pieces are beautiful and emotionally affecting in stark contrast to the cold alien soundscapes of the bell tracks. These are colder and less inviting but no less interesting. Sounding often like rubbed gongs; ringing chimes and high-register whistles are disturbed by rumbling bass.
Blue achieves its aim of successfully slipping the boundaries of machine time, aligning itself with the body instead. Its diverging sections unfolding like REM sleep cycles or relaxed respiration. Or perhaps Blue is looking for longer time-frames, the slipping of a tide, the imperceptible turn of a petal tracking the sun. In any case, take the time to listen to this slow and captivating album.