By Chris McGovern courtesy of The Glass
Australian-born composer Leah Kardos is in the process of taking her place in the already sizeable club of composer/performers, and is another harbinger of the days now where the worlds of new classical and indie music are barely separated by a blurred-over line. Initially a founder of the band Helzuki, she currently has 2 other indie acts: My Lithium & Me and Spider & I. Along with these activities, she also has been writing film scores and occasionally assists other bands with orchestral, choral or chamber arrangements on their songs. Recently the composer decided to make a self-recorded CD of short compositions threaded together as a thematic statement on her life and relationship with her first love, the piano, and this was what became Feather Hammer. Having had Leah as a great acquaintance on Twitter, I realized that I needed to do an interview with her soon before she hired a publicist. ;) Continue reading
Leah Kardos’s new work Feather Hammer is a great 40-minute perspective of where the Australian composer is at in her current state of mind. Written, performed, recorded and produced entirely by Kardos herself (with the exception of “Repeater”; CD masterer Matt Roles played the cracking bones on that track), the album is very much like a classical suite (sometimes sounding as if it could have been collaboratively recorded by Massive Attack and Arvo Part) on her first love, the piano, and its mini-movements read like pages of a diary that go from a good day filled with visions of hope to days less inspired and more stressful as a student.
The pieces don’t run into one another as they would in either a suite or some concept albums, but Kardos’s piano is such a consistent voice that it forces you to see the recording as a full-bodied work with the piano in the role of Kardos herself re-telling her story up to now. The varied sounds of the piano (straight piano vs. the flatter prepared-piano) give sort of an artistic timeline between a classical and an experimental sensibility, as if to say that the constructed has now been deconstructed.
The sound of the instruction on “DFACE” (the voice sampled from a YouTube piano tutorial) seems to invoke a statement on tedious studying, but the piece has such a colorful chord progression that I certainly would have wanted to pay attention to that instructor.
One of the most perplexing moments on the CD is “Houses”. Consisting of a very low-volume distant piano with random tapping noise in the foreground and what sounds like a ringtone towards the end, it is not only the shortest piece in the collection but the most atmospheric. Continue reading