ELWYN DENNIS: FUNDAMENTALS
(custom CD from Elwyn Dennis; email@example.com or c/o Post Office, Stawell West, Vic. 3380, Australia.)
Elwyn Dennis is a composer familiar to listeners to ABC-Classic-FM's "Listening Room" program. Aside from that, though, his work has received far too little exposure, which is a pity, because he's one of the most interesting and engaging of Australian contemporary composers. There is a strong current of ecological and philosophical thought in his work, which mostly consists of pieces made with sounds recorded on his property south of Stawell, near Victoria's Grampian (Garriwerd) Ranges. His program notes sum up the thoughts behind these seven compelling works composed in 1996 and 97. "This music gives voice to a reality independent of our species prejudices, our cultural metaphors, our sensory limitations. It refers to structures that are too vast, too slow or ones that are too minute, too quick for us to experience directly. That we must relate to these structures is becoming clear. Our lives depend on them, though we behave as though that were not true...So this work began with the sounds of natural circumstance, tapped the timbres arising from indigenous organization, registered the sequences, the spaces, the times, and the events of the bush because they are accurate, complete, independent but also because they are compelling. We too arise from the system; with an applicable aesthetic we might orchestrate our destiny rather than endure it."
(this review was first published in Chroma)