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Classical Music Review

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Composer: Mara Gibson
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 10 November 2017

Mara Gibson's new album, Sky-born, conjures a flurry of emotions through its moody music. In one moment, the busy strings create anxious, energetic sounds; the next, the strike of a lone piano chord paints a brooding soundscape...

If you like your classical music to stir an emotional response deep within your soul then you might not get on with Mara Gibson's new album, Sky-born. Over the course of this LP's 11 songs (57 min, 14 sec) Gibson experiments with the sounds of the instruments at her disposal. From a technical point of view this is interesting, but I found that it grated more than it entertained.

For the tracks here, Gibson's inspiration was born out of a variety of artistic mediums. The piano preludes, which are interspersed throughout the album, were inspired by the paintings of Jim Condron (, each piece extracting a haunting soundtrack from a series of abstract art. These tracks, I really didn't get on with - but then I'm also not a fan of Condron's art. Both the music and the art, to my mind, are thoughtlessly thrown together self-indulgent nonsense.

Gibson also used poems as the foundation for her compositions. 'One Voice' reflects the writings of the Michigan-based poet Hannah Ensor, while 'The Folium Cubed' is Gibson's response to Luisa Sello's 'Let Clover Be Aid'. The 15-minute 'Blackbird' carries the reader along a journey of grace and violence invigorated by 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird', a poem by Wallace Stevens.

'One Voice', for me, was the album's low point. While I get what Gibson was attempting to achieve (even if it's not original) the reading of Hannah Ensor's writing left me cold.

This album did nothing for me (other than mildly get on my nerves). If you like your classical music to have depth and stir emotions in you, then you may be disappointed with this release. Those that collect modern, formless albums will probably enjoy it.


Darren Rea

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