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Reveal Records REVEAL062CDX

On first impressions Flit by Martin Green is a challenging, serious endeavour that initially feels somewhat unapproachable. Ultimately everything is the sum of its parts and here there is an attempt to create a thought-provoking piece that does not set out to produce a glib and beautiful tune, however appealing and attractive that might be. That is not to say there are no decent tunes on offer here - far from it, the CD is packed with fascinating sounds and fine musicianship with plenty of intricate melodies. Becky Unthank lends her distinctive ethereal voice to great effect throughout, a perfect choice to develop the concept and ideas within the music.

The inspiration for the work comes from “first-hand stories of human movement across the world”; in other words a journey. Flit is certainly a journey from start to finish. Musically, the compositions are underpinned by a myriad of intricate sounds, never more so prominent than the intense percussive elements of drums or synthesizers sometimes used in a repetitive heartbeat style. Overall the timbre of the work creates a feeling of unease from one track to the next as if the feeling of pain, anguish, regret and hope for the future is all musically embodied in the experience of migration and travel.

Listening to the piece for the first time I felt that there was an element missing which I couldn’t quite put my finger on. With the benefit of a little research, it transpires that the work was co-commissioned by the Edinburgh International Arts Festival, the Barbican Centre, Perth International Arts Festival and the Sage, Gateshead. The performances were supplemented by a visual element supplied by the theatrical production company, White Robot. Using brown packing paper to represent “movement, transience, impermanence, people and things moving around the world”, they created “a paper world for the band to exist within, fragile, magic, universal and tragic”. The stop animation, although coming out of the original music, seems to me an integral part of the finished work. This bodes the question; can one exist without the other? On balance I would argue it can. Flit is a thought provoking piece which has many layers to be enjoyed over and over, with each successive listening. In spite of the missing visual element, this work seeps into your very being.

It is my opinion that Flit has a future both as a complex musical experience and also a theatrical performance piece. If a further, extended tour is organised, I would urge you to secure tickets to enable you to bathe, envelop and batter your senses from every angle!

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.