Title: The Enormous Space
Release Date: 10 July 2013
Genre: Absstract / Experimental
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Release Label: Soundeyet
J. G. Ballard’s The Enormous Space is the inspiration and model for a collection of works that are as challenging as the story of Geoffrey Ballantyne.
The story of Geoffrey Ballantyne is of a man who has disconnected himself from everything, literally. He starts by disconnecting himself from the reality around him: his work, his commitments to the outside world. He retreats into his house on a mission, the mission to find the space within himself. The house is the analogy for what he is going through in his mind. The whole idea of searching out the space within himself seems to have been precipitated by his wife’s decision to leave him and taking with her many of the items that held value to her, leaving him with a space that wasn’t nearly as occupied as it once was.
As the story progresses, Geoffrey finds himself becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the space he had initially sought to create and explore for himself. By the end of the story, he realizes that the space he has created is within his mind, and his horrifying actions have been the result of his yearning for an empty world.
Trying to capture the subtlety and complexity of such a story is a major undertaking. The artists explore the concepts of space in manners that are both suffocating and expansive. Each has managed a unique interpretation of the concepts within the story without relying on clichéd or stereotyped forms of representational-ism.
The interplay between ambient and atonal drone pieces, to abstract repetitive tonal pieces is a testament to the manners in which the story can be interpreted, There are vast levels of meaning that the artists on this recording can distill from the piece into a musical setting. And, they do so with a great attention to the source material they are working with.
One of the really standout pieces is ‘Cat Trap’ in which Call Back The Giants chose a form that feels like a Steve Reich piece run though a filter. It pulses and twists grossly along, with the fear, urgency and intensity Ballantyne certainly felt when he discovered Brenda had forced her way into his space. He could react only by making her part of his space in the only way his mind knew to make other beings part of his space.
Other pieces focus on the disjointed or discontinuous nature of thoughts, the continuity of space and Ballantyne’s disconnection from it and the world around him.
The only thing about this recording that I can take issue with is that many of the pieces are very abstract. While they stand alone outside of the story, the interpretation could be completely different from their context in relation to the story. I also have a sense that these are pieces that will connect with only a small audience, and that to some degree limits the appeal of this recording. Had it been a better balance between the abstract and concrete forms it might connect with a wider audience.
But still, this is a complicated work to attempt to interpret in a musical form: any musical form. And that alone, makes it worth listening to.