Slow and Blue
21st September 2021Features NMC Recordings
Composer Christian Drew shares some of the inpiration behind his new piece 'See Slow Blue' which features on the compilation 'Six Degrees of Separation' (out 23 July 2021)
I was listening to a lot of the New Jersey-based band Yo La Tengo when I started working on See Slow Blue. YLT’s music ranges from spacious, ambient instrumentals to feedback-fuelled, shoegazing noise rock. They also have a strange knack for writing these sweet, nostalgic love songs that somehow bypass the saccharine. The wavy, undulating mixture of tremolo, slide and ample reverb on Ira Kaplan’s guitar sound fed into the sliding string melodies and extremely slow vibrato I ask for in the cello, clarinet and vibraphone. In the percussion part I also wanted to tap into drummer Georgia Hubley’s loose, textural and nuanced way of playing; she’ll often draw on moody, atmospheric sounds that sidestep standard kit playing.
The title refers to anything slow and blue you might see. The sea and sky are obvious contenders; their slow vastness seemed to fit with the way the music was turning out. Paint also feels slow and has a rich history when you look at it from a blue perspective: ultramarine made from lapis lazuli has always been mystical and at one time more expensive than gold; more recently, the first new blue pigment in 200 years, YInMn Blue, was discovered and approved for use by artists and paint makers. Most of my clothes seem to be blue as well.
During the first lockdown, before I started See Slow Blue, I wrote a piece for open instrumentation called Pink Room, recording it remotely with anyone who was happy to get involved. The piece is a long string of dyads; players can perform one or both of the tones at any octave or point within the time bracket. My fascination with dyads at the time must have bled into the simple two-note harmonies that underpin See Slow Blue. Pink Room also has a companion piece, Orange Room. Coincidentally, I ended up writing three pieces across 2020 with colours in the title.
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