Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.
— Henry David Thoreau
Priscilla McLean’s Songs of Radiance triptych seems to draw inspiration both from the words of Henry David Thoreau and from the wild northern landscapes she calls home. Each song is a meditation on a Thoreau text, giving a glimpse inside McLean’s stream of consciousness, quiet at first, but then as new layers are deposited, one-by-one, the music eventually and inevitably seems to triumph and overtake all.
Songs of Radiance 3 (Time is but the stream) begins delicately, with hybrid flute-birds, Pierrot Lunaire-like Sprechtstimme, and a scurrying of instrumental samples evoking small mammals. Spoken text, pointillistic vocal effects, laughter, careening vocal glissandi and other vocalizations merge, blend, and morph into instrumental and electronic sounds. Here the voice is employed as an orchestra — its full range from speech, to bel canto, to isolated sibilants, to staccato laughter, to vocoder-like multitrack harmonies, coalescing into fresh and unexpected ensembles.
After hearing what Priscilla does with Kyma 7 and her voice, one can only hope that she has plans for live performance versions of these songs!
For more by Priscilla McLean (including the full Songs of Radiance cycle), visit her playlist.