Australian, Copenhagen-based sax player-composer Calum Builder’s Murmuration was created somewhere between the stillness and chaos of the 2020 lockdowns and was influenced by Builder’s vivid recurring dreams of living back in Australia. These mystical dreams varied from a murmuration of birds moving like a ‘giant shadow floating in the wind’, to visions of violent swirling water within a vast dark expanse of sea. Builder assembled an 11-musician ensemble to realize his sonic vision that encompasses contemporary music, chamber jazz, orchestral hive-mind elements, Gamelan music and ambient sounds.
This ambitious work follows Builder’s last year debut album, Messe (Ilk Music, 2021), a deconstructed Traditional Latin Messe composed for 21 musicians: seven voices, seven saxophones and seven double basses, that dealt with the deconstruction of his faith. His other projects include a work for a newly built instrument, the Reconstructed Pipe Organ, stories of mystic visions and experiences that are poured out upon those who have sought communion with divine spirits, and a duo with Canadian pianist, Matt Choboter, inspired by altered states of consciousness and mysticism.
«Perhaps Murmuration represents my remedy for homesickness — of a place that is not actually my home anymore. It is one that seems distant and increasingly more like a dream», writes Builder. He envisioned «horns wailing in the wilderness, reverberating against the vast expanse of ocean and tide. Strings manifest a swirling of wind and rain. Amongst the chaos, you peer down, struggling to make out the creatures of moving shadows in the darkness. You hear the distant, chasmic rumblings of the drums. Growing and growing. The rapid glorious sound of a bassoon vibrates with zeal and fire — illuminating the sky above».
Murmuration is an intriguing five-part suite that highlights the sonic imagination of Builder and his genre-defying and nuanced musical language. His ensemble, featuring some of the most exciting, younger musicians in Copenhagen, including trumpeter Erik Kimmestad, tubaist Kristian Tangvik and bass clarinetist Carolyn Goodwin, all able to transverse between different musical universes, realizes faithfully Builder’s dramatic and poetic sonic vision. Builder’s preoccupation with the intemperateness of Australian nature – raging fires and flash floods, the cyclones and scorching heat waves, all affected by climate change, becomes vivid and tangible and has an immediate emotional impact that hopefully would motivate the listener to act.
Calum Builder (as), Erik Kimmestad (tp), Kristian Tangvik (tuba), Carolyn Goodwin (bcl), Oda Dyrnes (c), Miguel Crozzoli (ts), Sara Bulili (bassoon), Barbara Kammer (viola), Piotr Dubajko (b), Håkon Guttormsen (tp), Jan Kadereit (dr, perc)