collected reviews for “poor henrietta marie” by nigel samways [hb/eph01]
nigel samways was recently (see vital weekly 714) discovered with some charming releases and here has a twenty-one minute piece ‘wade in the water’, which is based on a recording of a girl singing the same song in the streets of lewes, but its no longer to be recognized as such. samways uses tape treatments, dsp processing, instruments and some more field recordings, and crafted a great piece of music of a loop of singing, to which a whole brand of small electronic sounds, drones and glitches are added. think ‘jesus blood never failed me yet’ meeting ‘salt marie celeste’: a radioplay like piece of obscured field recordings which tell us a story, other than ‘just’ beautiful music. excellent release here. (FdW)
one of the things that distinguishes english sound artist nigel samways’ work from others is that he doesn’t use the field recording as merely a decorative add-on to his musical material; instead, the field recording functions as the nucleus for the musical fabric woven around it. poor henrietta marie perfectly exemplifies the approach. if at first the three-inch ep (available in only a fifty-copy run) seems oddly titled, it turns out to be anything but, as samways built the piece up from a recording he made of a girl singing “wade in the water” while busking on a street in lewes. supplementing that material with magnetic tape, computer processing, and live instruments, samways creates a dream-like twenty-two-minute suite that finds the girl’s exhalation repeatedly resounding within a slipstream of glassy haze and abandoned mansion-like noisemongering. dense winds blow through the ep’s dusty corridors while rain dribbles and drizzles beyond its walls, after which the singer soulfully serenades herself into a trance amidst rivulets of shimmering organ tones until the piece crawls to an unsettling, funereal close. likening the recording to an aural hallucinogen wouldn’t be too far off the mark.
(textura #67, april 2010)
here’s a bit of ghostly drone on a 3” cd-r. there’s only one track on this disc, but the liner notes divide it into two parts and a coda. the first part loops a few sounds: ominous piano, some faintly shrieking metallic chiming, some sort of percussive sound, possibly electronic, and most prominently, a ghostly wail that aurally equates a recurring shiver down your spine.
i guess part two starts after nine minutes or so, when the background drone gets louder, and it sounds like some sort of zombie orchestra is tuning up underneath. some more half-imagined melodies poke through, eventually followed by an almost bluesy moaning. i’m guessing the coda is the final minutes, when some kettle whistling, static (which escalates into noise), softly clanging metal, and more ominous piano bring the piece to a close.
no clue who henrietta marie is/was, but I can only assume she lived a hellish, tortured existence and this disc is the sound of her soul crying out for mercy. 7/10
(paul simpson review @ foxy digitalis june 2010)