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Chamber Music, Vol. 2

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Album Review

Released barely four months after Chamber Music, Vol. 1, this 27-track follow-up completes the song cycle, putting half of James Joyce's 1902 chapbook Chamber Music into a cappella musical settings. Where Vol. 1 had occasionally colored the pieces with ambient keyboards and acoustic instruments, Chamber Music, Vol. 2 is a strictly voice-only affair, the most purely minimalist recording of Bates' entire career. As before, Bates sets Joyce's poetry into melodies taken (often piecemeal) from British and Irish folk tradition, a canny idea that helps to reveal the influence of popular ballad singing on the Irish author's idiosyncratic but surprisingly traditional sense of meter. Often, musical settings of poetry sound forced and awkward; these 27 miniatures sound like Joyce had written these poems to these melodies, and the results are far more natural sounding than is usually the case with this kind of experiment. Bates would experiment further with both folk music and poetry for the next several years, but the two volumes of Chamber Music, Rovi

Biography

Born: 1960 in England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Before, during, and after his partnership with Peter Becker in the early-'80s pop duo Eyeless in Gaza, Martyn Bates pursued a widely varied solo career that ranged from industrial noise to pop balladry to traditional British folk music, and by the late '90s, into a blend of ambient and post-minimalist modern classical music. Throughout it all, Bates has maintained a taste for experimentalism that only rarely overshadows the accessibility of his music. Born in 1960 and raised in a strict Methodist...
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Chamber Music, Vol. 2, Martyn Bates
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