Dave Flynn Goes Full Circle
Dave Flynn: Full Circle Dave Flynn Collective/Bjorn Bantock Michael Jorgensen, violin; Adrienne Winninsky, cello; Maya Kasir, voice; Johan Totterstrom, voice; Nigel Foster, piano; Guildhall String Quartet Dave Flynn, electric guitar Frisbee Records Total Time: 41:22 Recording: (*)***/**** Performance: n/a
A couple of years ago, an album titled Irish Minimalism introduced many listeners to the music of Irish composer and guitarist Dave Flynn (b. 1977). He is perhaps known for his work with the Irish Memory Orchestra. The previous album provided a look at some of Flynn’s more recent work for chamber orchestra. The present release features some of his earlier compositions while he was at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The pieces here were composed over the course of 2001-2004 and it is important to note that they are all live performances from mostly student ensembles.
Flynn’s style is a blend of minimalist/post-minimalist styles with an occasional foray into jazz realms of rhythm and harmony, the integration of Irish folk elements has not yet become part of his musical fabric in most of the pieces. This often results in interesting, varied lines of looped material that come to the foreground in the opening work, Polymetric Circles. The piece here is a firm post-minimalist work with interesting colors across the ensemble. It shifts a bit between a John Adams-like style and one that blends Glass and Reich. The same can be said by Manipulations which shifts away from the more manic style of the opening piece to one of reflection and slower unfolding that has a bit more of an experimental edge. As with such things it is still a bit difficult to discern how to taper and bring them to an end and you can hear some of that experimentation here in transitions and endings.
The more jazz-like inspirations come in Quirk 1. This duet for violin and cello is an early blending of more contemporary minimalist style with inflections as well of Irish fiddle music. In the song cycle, Full Circle, Flynn’s style has a sort of art-song with folkish flavor in the vocal line that moves across an often busy accompaniment pattern in the second song, but the beauty of the title song here is stunning. The vocal shifts to tenor for the last song which is a bit unusual, but has a little dramatic flair and jazzy style. The folkish flavor is a bit subtler here, perhaps more a part of the text topics a bit. There is also a brief Nonsense Song. The folkish flavor is perhaps more noticeable in the string quartet work, Slip. It is an early version of what would work itself out more later in his second string quartet. The final piece, Electric Guichar and features Flynn on guitar with additional effects and sounds that create dense collages of sound. It is the most different and aggressive pieces on the release.
Because of the nature of these archival student performances, it is not fair to comment too much other than to say that they hold up quite well for the most part throughout each of the recordings here. Some of the pieces work better than others as one would expect in a collection of early pieces where one’s compositional technique and muscle are still exploring ideas and approaches. Worth checking out for those familiar with Flynn’s work and those interested in others working in this particular aesthetic area.