The debut release on the new String and Tins label is also the first in a new artist series entitled ‘Stills’. The project asked composers to create a piece of music in response to a self-selected work of art exhibited in the Tate Britain gallery, London. This task came with a question: if each respective artwork represented a still from a scene, what would the score sound like?
The first release, Stills 01, features three pieces of music, which all revolve around acoustic instrumentation and textural experimentation. On this release, the work of three British artists are in focus. The paintings in question flow from ‘high classicism, haunting surrealism, and architectural abstraction’, and composers Jim Stewart, Simon Whiteside, and Joe Wilkinson have the honour of interpreting these individual scenes.
The choral glory of ‘Annunciation’ is immediately evident, robed in majesty, standing upright, a jewel of light pouring forth. But as the piece progresses, the music breaks loose from tradition, diverting itself away and expanding its horizons, and its light shines ever brighter because of it. This is the first real hint of experimentation in the record, slowly leaning into something more abstract and falling away from its tighter beginning.
This piece sets the scene for the rest of Stills; the other two pieces come to realize that they can be themselves, form and paint their own interpretations of a scene without them being any less valid or authentic, and that’s liberating. Strings and piano remain constants in the mix, and they give the music space for growth; the more experimental sections are always able to sneak through a gap in the stave and find new angles. Stills 01 is an excellent introduction to a new label, a place where art, inspiration, and individual perception are all able to merge.