(New Album Review) Ian William Craig- Cradle for the Wanting
Ian William Craig is a composer, sound artist, and visual artist from Vancouver, British Columbia whose methodology marries the skeleton of classical Western art music to the decayed aesthetic of reel-to-reel hauntology. Last year Craig, who has been active since 2012, topped many critics’ lists with A Turn of Breath, off Sean McCann’s Recital Program. On that release, Craig, whose fledgling work began with sitting at piano and recording improvisations that were manipulated on tape, turned to his background as a trained opera singer for the praxis to create striking and elegiac effects, spooling his voice into faded and torn tape loops. It was hard not to take notice. His first follow up to A Turn of Breath, the excellent Theia and the Archive, was gorgeously emotive and piano-based, but on his second outing for Recital, Cradle for the Wanting, Craig has decided to trip deeper into what is perhaps the zone of the deconstructed art song he explored last year. The result is quite intriguing indeed.
Like contemporaries Tomonari Nozaki and Cradle’s curator McCann, Craig doesn’t craft songs so much as lo-fi neoclassical planetariums, a sense of saturation and resonance that can be almost overwhelming. However, compared with the dramatic transitions of A Turn of Breath, Cradle for the Wanting is more subdued, perhaps meditative. Perhaps unintentionally, Craig’s work here evokes the abstract, oddly dignified character of work by composers like Pauline Oliveros and David Hykes– deep listening art music where one is meant to ruminate over the trails left by sounds. So much is embedded in the lilting hums and whispers of a piece like “Shipbreaking”– phrases are scattered with a sense of purpose, with a sense of memories slowly resurfacing, and perhaps disintegrating as they unravel. The art song is an idiom so alien to modern music that one cannot help but reflect that this distorted re-arrangement feels emotionally faithful to it while being presented in a way that feels “right”. It’s lovely, absorbing stuff that finds something like eternity through unconventional means.