I know it’s a slightly unwieldy term, but I remember a lecturer at art school once described photography as ‘drawing with light’. Photography is, of course, about making an image but whatever that may comprise of, light, it seems is the magic constant ingredient. If that same logic was to be applied to music, that ingredient may well be time.
Imagine a series of sounds collected and placed along a timeline. The pacing and patterning of rhythm, the transition between activity and silence, every imaginable sound and texture placed along a backbone of time, in infinite clock working patterns.
Gioseffo Zarlino is a new 73-minute-long composition by Berlin based Canadian, Marc Sabat, that plots a beautifully controlled sweep though universal time through almost imperceptible transitions. This album is based on the work of the renaissance music theorist of the same name, but any academic understanding is not vital to unlocking the music, beyond attentive listening.
The piece is dived into 9 sections, where each of them, other than the first, add or remove an element mid-way through each cycle. What results is a glorious see sawing between viola, cello, violin, harp, organ, guitar, bass flute, flute and voices. The changes between each sound feel like little more than different shades of the same colour, fluctuations in a prismatic beauty.
Whilst there is no doubt, the precision and elegance of players is awe inspiring, the collected sounds describe a magic seam between maths and the celestial. Sabat has taken something that might on paper, have been somehow remote. The sleeve describes a cool geometric symmetry, a form of the minimal, but what we end up in an endless spiral of something staggeringly emotional.
In our part of the world, the dark is stretching into our mornings and afternoon. The temperature is dropping as leaves fall. This recording is, however, perfect to loop for huge chunks of the day. Gioseffo Zarlino has a magic and subtle warmth radiating out of its oddly described heartbeats. Time well spent.