Evelyn Glennie asked mixer and producer Michael Brauer (New Radicals "You Get What You Give," Bob Dylan's "Manchester '66") to do a record with her that would be strictly improvisational, with "no preparation of any type". She was to spend four days in a studio filled wall-to-wall with her instruments and just play. The concept was to explore the entire spectrum of human moods- "happy and light to dark and aggressive"- in a way that was "physical and very dynamic".
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shadow behind the iron sun

attack of the glow worm

battle cry

At the time, Brauer was reading Michael Crichton's novel "Eaters of the Dead" source of the recent movie "The 13th Warrior" which recounts the story of Ibn Fadlan, 922 A.D., representative of the ruler of Bagdad, who in journeying up the Volga valley on a mission to the King of Saqaliba, meets Viking chieftain Buliwyf and gets recruited to save the Norseman's countrymen and families from the monsters of the mist.

The book provided them with emotional ammunition and titles for the songs ("First Contact", "Land of Vedon", Thunder Caves ...). Brauer recorded every sound Glennie made with her battalion of instruments: a tam-tam dipped in water, a waterphone played with a violin bow, car exhaust pipes cut to different lengths and struck with triangle beaters, ceramic bells, Chinese Peking gongs, thunder sheet, vibratone, bass drum, roto toms, music boxes, marimba, Japanese Uchiwa Daikos, flexatones, children's toys, cracked marimba bars being slammed against a water tank, snare drums, steel drums, Batonka, Simtak, Glennie's Garbage cymbals and many more, some of them yet unnamed. Pianist Philip Smith came in to skirmish with Glennie (his list of functions included piano plucking, piano smacking and piano body slam!) thus creating the longest piece in the album.

On the fifth day, Brauer and his producer friend David Motion worked on the tracks, mixing in additional music where appropriate. The CD contains thirteen titles spanning over seventy minutes of music.

"What you experience with this recording are the thoughts of a player at the moment of creation," Glennie explains. Her thoughts are numberless, spontaneous, scintillating and always intensely expressed. The moods painted are those of a fearless and perceptive traveller on an expedition into unchartered realms, covering everything from hair-raising eerieness and outer-space weightlessness, through luminous movement, temple stillness and inspired playfulness, to outright savagery and delirious abandon. The way the pieces were organized conveys a sense of internal rise and fall, alternating light and shadow, a pallette of sound textures both strange and familiar, sacred and profane. The overall result is a very effective non-verbal form of story telling, gut-level and intuitional, that one can scarcely be indifferent to. Indeed the rich sounds, persistent beat and sheer vigor of the more memorable high-energy pieces engulf and entrance the listener who may at one point or another find her/himself on the floor, dancing a wild rapture.

We happened to have listened to this album daily, mostly in the morning, for about a week before writing this review. Rising out of bed, putting on the CD, making the coffee, picking up the newspaper. "First Contact" sees us through the haze of a half-awake mind; "Shadow Behind the Iron Sun" brings in patches of welcome light, stretching the brain muscles. But into the first minute of "Attack of the Glow Worm", the pot of java suddenly becomes superfluous: Glennie's frantic playing smacks all sleep into oblivion, animating our latent war colors. By the time we enter the "Land of Vendon" which is about 27 minutes long, we are in full epic battle mode! Other favorites: "Thunder Caves" described by Glennie as "sheer raw drumming", and "Battle Cry", which almost sounds like a techno club scene track.


-VBC, FanFaire 2000

First Lady To center stagePercussionThe music Exhaust pipes Calendar 
Hearing profoundly: (I)   (II) Shadow Discography
  Fractured Lines  UCLA Live  

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The Evelyn Glennie Pages

First Lady of Solo Percussion
To center-stage
Percussion, Rhythm, Time
The music she plays
Exhaust pipes & other instruments
  Hearing profoundly (I)
Hearing profoundly (II)
Shadow behind the iron sun
Update 2003
Fractured Lines
UCLA Live 2007

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