Small Holes in the Silence Rattle VUP
The CD looks good with its striking cover but what matters is that this CD sounds spectacular. Norman Meehan on piano, Hannah Griffin on voice and Hayden Chisholm on saxophone have taken a number of New Zealand poems (terrific poems) and transformed them into song.
For example: Hone Tuwhare’s ‘Rain’, Bill Manhire’s ‘Ballad of the Hurting Girl,’ James K Baxter’s ‘High Country Weather,’ Alistair Campbell’s ‘Blue Rain,’ Eileen Duggan’s ‘Frost,’ David Mitchell’s ‘Yellow Room.’
Tricky stiff — translating poetry into song when the new score might muffle the internal music to such an extent the poetry suffers. How does word meet external melody?
In this case, the poem becomes something different, a wonderful different that almost needs a new word to signal its poetry/music status. Word becomes music and music becomes word. Like a yin yang kind of thing. Two sides of the one cloth.
I loved the enticing interplay between silence, chord, harmony, counterpoint, key, movement and word. The arcing melody of instrument and voice step out from a word or phrase. Lightly. Surprisingly. Beautifully.
And the voice. The glorious voice that makes hairs stand on end. Hannah takes a word and savours it in her mouth. The word itself becomes aural poem with its dips, lifts and extensions.
Ah. Poetry becomes melody, melody slips into the pores of your skin and when you return to the poem on the page there is this haunting refrain. The voice, the piano, the saxophone — secret aural undercurrents as you read.
Plus there is a great introduction by Bill Manhire. I especially agree with this: ‘The music doesn’t overpower the words; but neither does it defer to them.’
I highly recommend this!