Another nice review of The Martian Chronicles:http://pingthings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-martian-chronicles-by-seren-ffordd.html#
The passing of Ray Bradbury earlier this year hit me really hard. I was a big fan of his work growing up, and the thought that his voice had been silenced really struck me as a tragedy. Certainly he'd left an incredible body of work behind, novels and short stories that will assuredly go down as some of the best literature of our time, but the idea that we would never read another new short story, or hear his thoughts on life in the future again? That his voice had been silenced seemed almost too cruel to imagine. But as horrible as it might be to imagine a world without one of our greatest writers, I am reminded of all of the people that Bradbury influenced through his work, and of all of the people who's own work has been inspired and informed by him. And while we may never read a new book by Bradbury again, we will surely continue to hear his influence for many years to come.
Recently I've been listening to an album by two artists who are no doubt very influenced by Bradbury's work and have joined forces on an impressive new release from the Hypnos label. "The Martian Chronicles" by Seren Ffordd and Oöphoi is a welcome supplement to the seminal collection of the same name, and the duo have done an admirable job of capturing the tone and feel of Bradbury's book. "The Martian Chronicles" is an excellent musical companion to the languid beauty of Bradbury's writing, and a welcome opportunity to rediscover one of Bradbury's most beloved works in a brand new light.
"The Long Years" is a piece that's divided into three distinct movements (much like the book), which bring to mind the possibility of space, the fear of the new, and the realization of self. I'm sure I'm projecting my own thoughts about the book onto the music, but there's a very clear narrative thread here that works really nicely in my mind. Admittedly it's a subtle thing, something I have to imagine and balance in my head, but overall it works very nicely for me, and I appreciate the musical and literary symmetry that comes about as a result of that balancing.
Track two, "Dead Cities", is an excellent example of how titles influence the way I listen to music. I can't help but imagine the empty homes of Martians who have passed away due to human carelessness, a feeling of overwhelming sadness at the loss of a rich culture that we will never have the chance to connect with again. Throughout the track there are a number of underlying themes and passages, all of which suggest a music beyond our understanding and experience, something below the surface that escapes us, and I feel a sense of regret for not having the chance or capacity to hear these themes in their full context. An emotional and evocative piece to say the least.
"Blue Fire" is a subtle piece, the sound of slowly burning embers that give off the barest of heat, but contain the memory of a raging fire that had existed before. Within the context of the book, the Blue Fire represents a Martian ascension beyond the material world, and that sense of evolution and development is implied in the track through slowly drifting pads and rising tones that take shape as time passes. An impressive piece of music that quite appeals to this listener.
"End of a Changeling" is a shorter track clocking in at under three minutes, but in that short time it captures all of the imagery and visuals to match the catclysmic nuclear war on the Earth that ushers in the third section of the book. An evocative piece of music.
While the title would suggest the geography of Mars that Bradbury describes, the sounds of rain that usher in "Canals" reminds me more of the robot house that attends to it's family long after they've died in the war. There's a sense of haunting beauty and forlorn wonder here, a feeling of sadness and loss that really resonates. Another great track that particularly stands out for me.
"Flamebirds Waiting for the Storm" has an eerie metallic feel to it, paired with the sound of a flock of birds. It's an odd pairing, but a surprisingly successful one that works really well within the context of the alien world that's being presented. A very nice example of a fully realized aural landscape.
"Unremembered" ends the disc, an appropriate finish that echoes the sound of empty homes, empty spaces, and empty dreams. There's a sense of finality and closure that's quite striking here, something that translates really well sonically and complements Bradbury's words. If you were to ask me what a deserted Martian town sounded like, this would definitely be the sound I would imagine.
Clearly Seren Ffordd and Oöphoi have a strong appreciation and admiration for Bradbury's work, and that appreciation is readily apparent in their ability to create such an excellent musical accompaniment. As I listened to the tracks on the album I was transported to Mars in much the same wondrous way that I was when I first read "The Martian Chronicles" all those years ago, and the ability to revisit that same sense of awe and discovery is a true testament to the skill and talent of these two artists. A great album that gets an enthusiastic round of praise from me!
"The Martian Chronicles" by Seren Ffordd and Oöphoi is available from the Hypnos Website.
rik - ping things