Periphery is entwined in its own instrumentation. Flute, cello, and piano make up the recipe, all three twirling and never really settling in spite of the somnambulant mood and its thoroughly relaxing parts, entangling with the elasticity of time and the deep trenches of memory through a recurring, ever-morphing melody. The American composer once heard this melody at his grandparents’ local church, and over the years this heartbeat has continued to echo, eventually finding some kind of rest in Periphery.
Consisting of four different imaginings of the same score, the melody returns, hangs in the atmosphere, flitting around peripheral lines. Clay takes this ageless melody and deconstructs it, stretching it out in a slow and sleepy series of movements which encompass and add up the long years. As a child, this melody, along with that one moment, imprinted itself upon him.
Recorded at a small church in San Francisco, Periphery’s three musicians (Sasha Launer, Crystal Pascucci, and Katy Luo) awaken the melody from silent air. They recorded over separate nights, and that gives the finished article a feeling of split periods and slight ageing; deep within the similarities, there are differing textures and flowing moods. And the music is very much like a memory in that the tones are a transient breeze, unable to settle for anything longer than thirty seconds before developing and then shifting to another train of thought, preferring to drift over the span of the decades. Like the music, memories change, shifting with age, lightly foxing at the corners with the trappings of old air and resuscitated thoughts.
The flute lends itself to soothing tones and sleepy afternoons – a perfect fit for ambient and modern classical music – but it isn’t very common (apart from the music of Isnaj Dui, perhaps), so it’s a pleasure to hear its soothing bursts of melody.
Music, memory, and association are all linked. Periphery straps the listener into a DeLorean and travels into a time long ago: back to that church, and back to that day, but music like this never really ages; while it reminisces, it breathes in the here and now.