Review: Simon Cummings – (Crónica, Apr 10)

Just yesterday I wrote a bit about the power of silence, and how it can be used to elicit discomfort and even fear in the listener. The silence that English artist Simon Cummings uses on his new album   (pronounced “ma”) is not as immediately intimidating as Soddell’s, but it is no less unsettling. The record was put together during a very negative period in Cummings’ life, a context reflected in its aching, hopeless atmosphere. The source material draws from recordings he made during Anglican sermons, which were edited down to the quiet moments of limbo between activities and then heavily processed. On the first track, whose probably overly poetic title fittingly begins with “mightily forgetting,” a startling organ chord decays in somber slow motion; establishing acute feelings of despair and dread from the very beginning. And on the album’s longest piece, “from Silence, of Nothing,” wispy bundles of noise rise and fall from oppressive silence, sometimes reduced to meager clicks and rumbles amidst distant whooshing sounds. The album is quite the emotional roller coaster, and at the end I’m not really sure what to feel. There are fleeting moments of hope, passages of empty indifference, and overwhelming despair of course; an impossibly wide range of sentiments that is rivaled only by what I’m sure Cummings was feeling when he made it all. 間 , a Japanese word, can be translated as a space between or a gap, and hopefully that is exactly what this difficult time in his life turned out to be.

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