Fantasias for Theremin and String Quartet

Carolina Eyck with American Contemporary Music Ensemble

Listen to "Oakunar Lyntuja" from the LP

About the Album

Eyck composed these six Fantasias specifically for the 12” vinyl LP format, a practice reminiscent of early-60s Nonesuch releases. All performances were recorded in full takes with no editing. American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) tracked Eyck’s scores first, and then Eyck overdubbed her deft, fluid, single-take improvisations—thus the fitting title Fantasias. The result is an organic virtuosity that leads the listener through a wide range of sonic environments across the six pieces.

Eyck’s striking theremin performances on Fantasias showcase her dead-aim intonation, her command of microtonality, her fluid melodicism, and—perhaps most importantly—her utter lack of self-consciousness as an improvisor. This latter quality is no accident, as Eyck has practiced improvisation for years, and has even studied techniques typically aimed at athletes for entering flow-states and shutting down critical inner dialogue.

Eyck’s compositions range from slow-evolving arpeggiations reminiscent of Reich and Glass (see “Oakuunar Lynntuja” and “Dappa Solarjos”), to alternative bowing and fingering techniques that achieve an ethereal ambience (see “Leyhomi”), to athletic explorations reminiscent of Bartók’s String Quartets (see “Dappa Solarjos”). The titles were devised by Eyck and producer/label-head Allen Farmelo by scanning multiple Scandinavian languages for pleasing lingual combinations (a technique inspired by Canadian-Icelandic ecological poet Angela Rawlings). Conceptually, Eyck has located all of this music within her vivid childhood memories of the woods of northern Germany where she grew up. However, Eyck remains pointedly cognizant that this setting—and the young girl’s imagination that once enlivened it—act as metaphors for the context and mental state one needs to sustain creative presence. In a sense, the Fantasias stand as a metaphor for the very thing that made them possible.

Notable is that Fantasias was conceived as a 12” vinyl LP from the beginning, this largely due to the insistence of Farmelo who co-conceived Fantasias with Eyck. Farmelo maintains that, “The LP is a musical form unto itself, not unlike a symphony or a sonata, complete with explicit structures and implicit expectations. The LP format outlived its physical constraints through the digital era, a testament to its tenacity as an abstracted art form.” Structurally, there are three pieces per side, each of carefully plotted run-length, which form intentional musical arcs—both per side and across the entire LP—not unlike movements in a larger work. Farmelo’s essay that accompanies the LP explores these concepts and others in greater detail.

 

Info

Release Date — October 14th, 2016

Catalog # — BSR015

 

Track List

  1. Oakunar Lynntuja

  2. Leyohmi

  3. Nukkuva Luohla

  4. Metsa Happa

  5. Dappa Solarjos

  6. Nousta / Needad

 

Credits

  • Composed for the LP by Carolina Eyck

  • Produced by Allen Farmelo

  • Recorded by John Davis and Allen Farmelo at The Bunker

  • Mixed and Mastered by Farmelo at The Snow Farm

  • Theremin — Carolina Eyck

  • Violins — Caroline Shaw, Ben Russell

  • Viola — Caleb Burhans

  • Cello — Clarice Jensen

  • ACME Artistic Direction — Clarice Jensen

  • Cover Painting "Fantasias" — C. Eyck

  • Design — Christopher Vetur