Memory Forms

frawleyweek

Following The Night Parade (see here), another recent release by Joe Frawley is A Week of Fevers (JOE FRAWLEY MUSIC JFM-CD14) …having suggested he appeared to be relinquishing his earlier narrative style, I find there are traces of that approach still in evidence here. Piano tunes are still the backbone of the work, but Frawley illuminates them with the delicate sound-collages he does so well, in this instance using recordings from “unidentified individuals”, some salvaged magnetic tape recordings from the Chawner family, and public domain sources – perhaps sourced from YouTube, or any sound archive which has digitised its audio content and made it available online.

I would add that the sound collage this time is much more subtle than it ever has been; Frawley downplays story-telling and is content to evoke or suggest fleeting ideas with just the merest touch of sampling. Others have reworked old and damaged materials from the past – just recently we noted the Fossil Aerosol Mining Project who do just this – but I like to think Frawley has a sentimental attachment to these materials, and will only select choice items which stir a chord in his own nostalgic leanings, and he can thus be seen as a sympathetic foster parent for orphaned sounds. He’s also using collaging for the actual compositions; a number of published songs are used, and credited, as sources of samples or as the starting point for his own musical interpretations, and the shopping list includes such romantic tunes as ‘Meet Me in My Dreams Tonight’ and ‘I’ve Heard That Song Before’, both examples from the pre-war Golden Age of Tin Pan Alley songwriting.

I’ve previously likened him to Joseph Cornell, and he explicitly makes the same connection himself with the tune ‘NympWight, for Joseph Cornell’ which ends the album; and the collage cover art is a strong visual analogue to the music. Further, the very title A Week Of Fevers is surely a nod in the direction of A Week Of Kindness, the collage novel by Max Ernst and one of the guiding lights of all artists who use this technique. Of course to some degree Ernst intended to subvert the stuffy Edwardian past from which he clipped his engravings; Frawley’s intentions are more benign I would think, and he wishes to invoke kind spirits from history. True to its title, the album takes the form of a diary, with a track for each day of the week and the final revelatory chapter as track 8. From 17 December 2015.

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