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British avant-garde composer Christopher James Chaplin likes to abstract biblical-philosophical issues into subtle and enigmatic ambient music. His second album «Paradise Lost» (Fabrique, 2018) translated John Milton’s poem (1667) about the descent of fallen angels into hell into epic soundscapes and featured the voices of Nathan Vale, and Leslie Winer. His new album «Patriarchs» is based on the ten pre-Flood patriarchs, listed in the genealogy of Genesis V, from Adam to Noah, and their journey from the darkness and confusion of the Fall of man from the Garden of Eden towards light and enlightenment.

The sonic abstraction of the biblical stories of the «Patriarchs», according to Chaplin, is a «struggle from dense, slow-moving textures to more dynamic and structured ones». He uses recorded vocals, including of his long-time collaborator the German electronics musician Hans-Joachim Roedelius (of Cluster and Harmonia fame), on one piece, to intensify the state of confusion. The vocals are manipulated and processed into distorted and unintelligible bits of words and phrases, and slowly turn into clearer and more defined sentences as this work progresses.

«Patriarchs» is a suggestive and mysterious ambient work. Chaplin cleverly treads cleverly between abstract experimental sounds, subtle vocal samples and delicate and almost chamber electronic music. The atmosphere becomes brighter as the work develops and even incorporates dance beats on the seventh piece «Enoch». The last two tracks, «Lamech» and «Noah», represent the end of this timeless biblical journey and incorporate the sounds of a crow and a dove, respectively, hinting at the coming light and passing of the Flood. Eventually, «Patriarchs» offers an immersive listening experience that can transport the innocent listener into mental and spatiotemporal intermediate states.

Eyal Hareuveni

Christopher Chaplin (synth, elec, field rec), Hans-Joachim Roedelius (v)

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