THE McLEAN MIX
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Catalog Number: CPS-8617
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 72:33
Release Date: 1993
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||On Wings of
||Himalayan Fantasy (19:04)
Available on Capstone
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"One might think that composers of electroacoustic music have much in
common with nuclear physicists. Plenty of forbidding images arise -- for
example, those of "mad scientists" in clinically spotless labcoats
speaking a language that only they can understand, and cackling over
projects whose merits one needs to be equally brilliant to comprehend.
After all, "fun" is not the first word that comes to mind when one thinks
of this musical genre.
Then one becomes aware of the work of Barton and Priscilla McLean, a
husband and wife team based in Petersburgh, New York, whose
electroacoustic music is . . . well, different. Together, they are known
as "The McLean Mix," and their literature describes them as an
"Electroacoustic Music/Media Duo." Bringing their work to a
non-traditional (that is, a non-concert-going) audience is important to
them, and they promise "sounds and sights so unusual that you the
audience will want to get up and perform and dance and paint . . ."
Disney's Epcot Center was never like this. The McLean Mix can recreate a
jungle in Borneo, a rainforest, or a desert spring in a small performance
space; participants can play acoustic and electronic instruments, sing on
a sound processed microphone, immerse themselves in slide and video
images, and move their bodies in response to the rich banquet of sights
and sounds. As you might have gathered by now, the description
"environmentalists" also belongs to Priscilla and Barton McLean, although
they might not explicitly identify themselves as such. To "Save The
Rainforest" is a noble goal few would argue against, but it is too
abstract to mean much to most people. The McLeans' interactive multimedia
performances bring rainforests and other vulnerable environments to the
audiences, and, if the music alone is anything to go by, it would be very
difficult not to become emotionally involved in the spaces that are so
vividly evoked. Truly, there are universes in the compound eye of a bee,
the McLeans seem to be telling us.
These four CDs are always surprising and provocative. They contain
several types of sound. First, there's straight-ahead acoustic
performance, as in the sound of a clarinet, saxophone, or human voice.
Sometimes, the instrument will be manipulated during performance;
Priscilla McLean "prepares" the piano in the style of John Cage with
wedges, washers, credit cards (!), and other timbre-altering objects, and
the inside harp may be played as well as the keyboard. A good example of
this is in The Inner Universe, a suite inspired by electron micrographs
of plants and animals. Fantasies for Adults and Other Children (a set of
songs to texts by e.e. cummings) makes even more dramatic use of a
prepared piano. Another manipulated instrument is the "clariflute," which
is a soprano recorder with a clarinet mouthpiece; it can be heard in Dawn
Chorus, Earth Music, and in other works on these four discs. The McLeans
don't use electronics gratuitously, then; in Wilderness, Priscilla McLean
(who has a fine soprano voice) adds reverberation to her voice with
nothing more high-tech than an empty mayonnaise jar. She, it must be
said, is a brilliant practitioner of what sometimes is called "extended
vocal technique." Her whoops, shrieks, mutters, and palette of noises,
guttural and otherwise, will endear her to anyone who loved Cathy
Berberian's virtuosic performances of extreme 20th century music
(particularly Luciano Berio's). Fans of Meredith Monk will be comfortable
The McLean Mix frequently accompanies "live" instrumentalists or
vocalists with pre-recorded stereo tape. In the funny and frightening
Where the Wild Geese Go, the tape contains samples of the clarinet
soloist's own playing, and so a virtual duet for one is made possible.
The tape also contains samples of animal sounds (birds and bees) and
percussion samples. In Barton McLean's Dimensions, the pianist
(Dimensions II) or saxophonist (Dimensions III) plays along with
pre-recorded piano or saxophone samples that have been processed,
sometimes - as in the case of the piano in Dimensions II - past the point
of recognition. Priscilla McLean's Dance of Shiva incorporates
pre-recorded samples of everything from Buddhist chants and Hildegard von
Bingen to bumblebees to evoke the Hindu deity Shiva. In concert, multiple
slide projections depict "volcanoes, landslides, glaciers, storms, [. .
.] peoples and animals appear, flower, and disappear in a continuous
lifeflow cycle, on and on forever." (It is time for The McLean Mix to
consider a DVD of their work; to a certain extent, perhaps these CDs are
already outdated!) Further multicultural ambitions are revealed by In the
Beginning. In this work, one of the most recent on these four CDs,
Priscilla McLean reads creation texts from Babylonia, Greece, and
Chaldea, and also draws upon Hindu, Arunta, Zuni, and Occidental
cultures. This work contains some of the most complicated manipulation of
live and pre-recorded material. As she sings "live," her husband alters
her voice with echo- and delay-processing. The tape that is played
simultaneously contains almost nothing but her voice, but extensive
manipulation via the ASR-10 synthesizer dramatically alters its range and
the timbre, even creating choral textures.
These are not the only unusual sounds to be heard on these discs. In the
joint composition Rainforest Images, the McLeans have written for
didgeridoo, the wind instrument created by Australia's indigenous
peoples. The spokes of a bicycle wheel are bowed and struck with dampers
in On Wings of Song, which also gives wonderful prominence to the
pre-recorded "voices" of mosquitoes and bees. Even ancient glacial rocks
are found to be highly musical; they are struck with mallets in Earth
Lest the impression be given that this is New Age music for softy-eared
tree-huggers, I need to say that the McLeans don't seem to feel any
obligation to make traditionally pretty noises. This is not music to be
lulled by or to fall asleep to. I admit that one afternoon I tried dozing
off to one of these CDs, and woke up startled by the challenging sounds
that were coming out of my speakers: did my house need an exorcism? Again
and again, The McLean Mix comes up with awesome sounds and textures - and
I mean "awesome" quite literally. Even though this is modern music that
places communication with a non-specialist audience high on its agenda,
listeners will get no free rides from it. They'll have to put aside their
prejudices and hear it for what it is.
These discs have a refreshingly homemade quality that is in tune with
the music that they contain; they are professional but hardly slick. The
recordings - some of them in concert settings -- were made over decades
and in many different locations. Nevertheless, the four programs hold
together, and the engineering is just fine. If I were to pick just one
(and I'm glad I don't have to), I would choose Capstone CPS-8637, which
bears the title "The Electric Performer." It strikes me as being the most
representative of the four."
Century Music - February 1999 - by Mark Alburger
and Barton McLean are uncompromising performer-composers with their
own personal musical vision. Often this vision is directly related
to actual images, as in the case of Priscilla's The Inner Universe, a work in five movements that opens their Capstone release, The
Electric Performer. This composition for amplified piano using
"soft" preparations (super-balls, piano wedges, coffee mugs,
covered metal washers, light chains, books, guitar picks) buzzes,
perks, and glissandos along in response to electronic-microscope slides
of David Scharf -- at times Cageian and Crumbian Priscilla's Where
the Wild Geese Go is another busy bee in its samples of wild animal
calls (Canadian geese, bald eagles, American bittern, loons, owls,
honeybees, and bumblebees), clarinet (Gerald Fanner), bottle drum,
Barton checks in with Dimensions II, a piano and tape composition
excitingly performed by the well-known David Burge, who no doubt found
his experiences recording the Makrokosmos cycle of George Crumb
able preparation for this varied essay. Barton's neoprimative, haunting
and spacious Dawn Chorus finds the composer as performer on
soprano recorder and clariflute (a hybrid clarinet/recorder) through
the sophisticated machinations of digital processing enriched by stereo
tape. The album comes to a shrieking and ominous conclusion in Dimensions
III, with alto saxophonist Albert Regni.
Priscilla and Barton bill themselves as The McLean Mix on two other
Capstone releases, and indeed their compositional voices are more
thoroughly entwined. Barton's Earth Music, the first selection
on Gods, Demons, and the Earth, finds the composer on keyboards,
clariflute, digital synthesizers, samplers, and digital processors,
complimented by Priscilla as vocalist, ocarinist, and percussionist
on ancient glacial rocks struck with mallets. Wilderness flips
the responsibilities with composer Priscilla as extended vocalist
to Barton's flexatone percussion supplemented with "animal [one
assumes this means "mammal"], bird, insect, and surreal
instrumental sounds (using digital sampling and synthesis) on stereo
tape. The two more discrete compositions on this disc are the Visions
of a Summer Night (Barton) featuring the mysterious wolfish sparkling
light console on the third-movement "Fireflies," and Dance
of Shiva (Priscilla), which adds sampled Buddhist Chant, music
of Hildegard von Bingen, and precipitous glissandoing instrumentals
to the mix.
The duo's continuing interest in natural and high-tech sounds is well
shown by a third CD Rainforest Images. The jointly-composed
title work, in five continuous movements, features voices, violins,
wooden records, clariflute (here characterized as clarinet mouthpiece
with recorder body), didgeridoo, wolf howls, monkey cries, birdsong,
and ominous sustained vocals. Priscilla's vocals are allied with Barton's
amplified bicycle wheel and insects (mosquitoes and bees) in On Wings
of Song and Barton closes with a studio solo Himalayan Fantasy, a wonderful assemblage of recordings of Tibetan singers and instrumentalists
organized into a large composition featuring synthesizers, sona, and
harp-like sounds. This is one of the more convincing Fast-West syntheses
since Philip Glass's music for Kundun."
Music - Fall 1996 - by Robert W. Butts
1991 I taught electronic composition at Drew University (Madison,
N.J.). Although at first daunted by the thirty-year-old Moog modular
system and four-track tape deck, I soon experienced the joy of discovery
in experimentation. In the process I explored and reflected on the
nature of tone manipulation, coming closer to understanding the excitement
that I had witnessed in my electronic-oriented colleagues during my
pre-electronic days. Investigating new relationships of time and form
or line and rhythm, as well as the infinite effects of modulators,
oscillators, and patch cabling, I found myself pushing the boundaries
of my creative self, whether working for tape recorder or for recorder
In 19931 purchased a Roland MIDI board to connect with Finale in my
IBM-clone computer. With much excitement I anticipated how the ready
array of sounds I had spent many lab hours seeking would again expand
my creativity in even newer directions. No fuss with webs of patches.
No constant mixing down to achieve greater~than~three-voice polyphony;
no panic when a particular well-liked sound mass was dismantled before
I had remembered to record all the combinations of dials and wires.
Astonishingly, it did not happen. Instead my creativity became stifled
and more traditional than ever. Without the catalytic force generated
during the hours of searching, patching, splicing, mixing, and searching
again, I fell into the habit of using a few, mostly familiar sounds
in highly conservative formats.
Reviewing these two recordings, I was reminded of these experiences.
In a similar way, the recordings reflect a large segment of the modern
creative world, for it seems that as the available technology increases,
the quality of the things created becomes less notable and more average.
The paradoxical situation is similar to the cable television phenomenon:
the more channels there are, the less worthwhile material one finds
to watch. Similarly, as the technology to produce music has become
cheaper, easier to use, and more available to more people, the music
produced has grown less daring, less innovative, less reaching, and
This is not to say that one approach or another is definitively good
or bad. For me, there is a spark in the earlier Dockstader work that
is missing from the more recent McLean Mix composition. The listener
can discern in each the limitations and the strengths of its technologies,
as well as a zeitgeist of its era, a spirit perhaps somewhat dependent
on its contemporary societal and technological level. Although both
albums contain a great deal of rewarding material, it is startling
to realize how conservative a large number of us have become with
tools expected to produce the precise opposite.
In the now fairly long history of electronic music, neither Tod Dockstader
nor Barton and Priscilla McLean (a unique husband and wife team known
collectively as McLean Mix) has figured particularly prominently.
Indeed, most reference books mention them briefly, if at all. Both
these discs contain much of artistic and scholarly value, however,
as relates to the artists themselves and their place within historical
Like Pierre Schaeffer; Vladimir Ussachevsky, Otto Luening, and other
pioneers of analog composition, Tod Dockstader worked extensively
with musique concrète, a label often oddly relegated
to the bin of archaic terms even though many-from Billy Joel to Steve
Reich-use manipulated tape sounds in one fashion or another. (The
phrase does not appear at all in the liner notes accompanying Rainforest
Images, although the use of prerecorded real noises figures prominently.)
Dockstader submits the basic sounds of a drop of water, balloons,
or adhesive tape to numerous manipulative formats, creating rich combinative
textures as well as variations for use as the basis for further manipulation,
or-as he and those of his time prefer-organization. Each of the thirteen
tracks is determined by carefully coordinated sound elements that
inspire imagery, demand attention, and generate strong emotional responses.
Forms are clearly delineated. Themes are progressively developed.
Counterpoint becomes a driving force of layered rhythms and thematic
In the six parts of Water Music (1963), sound bites are presented
in several levels of construct. The germinal form of the water drop,
from which subsequent motifs are generated, is repeated at effectively
placed intervals. In constant and immediate stages of development,
the source appears in an endless array of transition states, the effects
of device alteration. Finally, the germinal motif is heard in Dockstader's
choices of the many potential transformed modes. In fascinating profusion
the three stages-germinal, transition, and transformed-take on individual
and collective identity.
Two Moons of Quatermass ("First Moon," "Second
Moon") and Quatermass ("Song and Lament," "Tango,"
"Parade," "Plight," "Second Song"),
both composed in ~964, are decidedly different, although equally forceful
in emotional expressivity. All seven movements (Two Moons was a spinoff of Quatermass) are more strikingly electronic-reverberating
than are those of Water Music. In addition all elements feel
more controlled, less spontaneous. Counterpoint is thicker, imagery
is more abstract, construction is tighter, and textures are denser.
Percussive effects dominate, becoming the force that drives the music
forward. In "Song and Lament" cannon-shot sounds in the
initial moments lead into an impressively "orchestrated"
passage filled with moaning glissandi figures. The tango's essential
rhythm is generated through successive entries of beat splices that
unite to create the dance.
Like many individuals working in the medium, Dockstader derives new
and constructive principles from the fabric of his experimental materials
manipulated through the endless hours of splicing and patching. Concepts
of dissonance and resolution are based not on tonal/harmonic juxtaposition
but on the cumulative thrust of altered frequencies, velocities, and
pulsations. Also noteworthy is the psychological effect of Dockstader's
scores. His sound elements are clearly artificially produced and arranged,
yet they sound eerily human. They are disturbingly expressionistic
and dark in their intensity. On a deeper level the electronic moans,
cries, and sighs touch a root of human emotionality, sounding almost
more human than does a real voice.
Real voices and nonelectronic instruments combine with taped and synthesized
sounds to produce the strikingly different selections of the McLean
Mix. Rather than pull in the listener, however, these tracks create
an ambient atmosphere in which the music frequently fades into part
of whatever surroundings the listener inhabits. Unobtrusive, the album
is perfect for creating a mood of listening while doing something
else. At first hearing it is easy to dismiss this as another modern
effort to produce pleasantly interesting combinations of sound that
can be soothingly entrancing. Dissonance and resolution here become
little more than semiexistent ripples in an even-flowing space-time
continuum. Multiple listenings show this to be a misleading evaluation,
Bird calls and songs begin Rainforest Images (the title work,
which consists of five continuous movements). The listener is quickly
absorbed by jungle visions and tropical imaginations. Slowly, like
a primordial force, a "tonal" center emerges and gradually
evolves. To complete the dreamy essence, pleasant tinkling sounds
evocative of the magical waterfalls of mist-shrouded fantasies impart
added warmth. Human voices enter subtly, casually invading and disrupting
the fabric of this tonal Eden. More often than not, the vocal lines
are intrusive, even though they initially blend with the natural world,
even implying a harmonic oneness. In various sections of the piece
these human elements attempt to dominate the score, subjecting the
random and rhapsodic bird sounds to a controlled compositional process.
Tension is main-
tamed through the contrapuntally conceived juxtaposition of bird and
human voices. The entrancing harmoniousness to the dynamic and textural
sameness is deceptive. Beneath the tranquility buzzes the human voice,
at several points more mechanical than human. As nature squawks in
protest, one is reminded of the buzzing mechanical presence humans
inflict on the dwindling resources of the tropics (and the rest of
the world). At least in the McLean Mix universe, the forest withstands
the human invasion.
Similar to Dockstader's music, Rainforest Images (and the other
two selections, Priscilla McLean's On Wings of Song and Barton
McLean's Himalayan Fantasy) demands new terminology for critical
discussion. Levels of activity create timbres and textures more easily
described in computer language. The notions of sound bites, bits,
asynchronous manipulations, and memory displacements describe what
is heard more accurately than do those of chords, notes, rhythms,
or voice leadings. Every McLean Mix element is primarily significant
in its relationship with other elements, regardless of the effect
of any vertical slice in time or score. The effect of Brendan Dickie's
improvised didgeridoo passage on the bird calls and chanters, when
heard in overlapping in consequent segments, thus becomes a point
of thematic contact over the entirety. Specific pitches played on
the Australian instrument or sung by the singers are almost irrelevant
in the holistic compositional concept.
It is perhaps unfair to be too critical of the overwhelming ambience
of Rain-forest Images, especially without the benefit of the
digital light machine and image projection that are part of the piece's
performance. As in much modern music, minimal techniques, long-range
relationships, and a generally slower pace soften the effect of dramatic
expression and the immediate thematic event. Repeated listening to
the album will yield increased results to anyone able to resist the
temptation simply to close his or her eyes and relax. In the end,
for me, Tod Dockstader, with his more limited resources and more labor-
and time-intensive technological devices, reached further into new
areas of musical form, structure, and content. The McLean Mix sounds
more like a retrenchment, despite the greater number and ease of access
to similar sound resources (which is meant to imply not that any creativity
is ever easy but only that the electronic means of realizing the creative
impulse can be). As Barton McLean states in reference to his solo
composition, however, the goal is to fuse existing elements in their
real and electrified states. In this way buzzing bees, amplified bicycle
wheels, hybrid instruments such as the clariflute (Barton McLean's
combination of the clarinet and the recorder), and instruments from
anywhere in the world are elements to be combined in imaginative ways
to create music that makes its statement for the most part in unobtrusive
ambience. The electronic composer of thirty years ago saw similar
sounds in their potential to be manipulated, organized, and re-created
in an ever-expanding musical universe."
SEAMUS - April, 1995 - Volume X, Number 1 - by Rodney Oakes
and Barton McLean are certainly well known to Journal SEAMUS readers. They have been touring as the McLean Mix since 1973.
Both Priscilla and Barton have contributed articles for the Journal.
Their music has been widely available on concerts, recordings, and
installations. Their new CD, Rainforest Images, is the result
of much labor, enormous thought, and offers a mature work that reflects
the McLean Mix at its best.
The McLeans have pioneered electro-acoustic music that involves
and engages audiences. They have toured extensively presenting concerts
and gathering material. They are also avid lovers of nature and
their respect for nature is reflected in their music. They also
have a deep respect for human culture and traditions, and they have
incorporated indigenous music from many different corners of the
world. Rainforest Images is a celebration of nature and human
interaction with nature. The McLeans are twentieth century romanticists
in the best sense of the term. No, they are not a part of a new
tonal movement. Their respect for nature and human cultures is all
reflected in their music.
The centerpiece of the CD is the five movement title work, Rainforest
Images, composed by both members of this unique husband and
wife composition team. Two additional works are included: On Wings of Song by Priscilla, and Himalayan Fantasy by Barton.
The result is a CD that represents the team's collaborative and
Rainforest Images is an ambitious work and symphonic in scope.
At forty-eight minutes in length and five connected movements, the
results are like having one's own personal world symphony in one's
living room. It works well for an audience of one.
The basic core consists of material gathered by the McLeans during
their many world tours. There is extensive use of bird calls. They
also use the talents of Panaiotis, a composer-singer who works with
Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening Band, and Australian vocalists
Kerrie Ryan and Ivana Troselji, plus the talents of Brendan Dickie
performing on the didgeridoo. Sometimes this information is given
to the listener in a natural form. At other times it is heavily
processed. Usually it is combined with the McLeans' original creations.
The McLeans also contribute acoustic performances. Priscilla sings,
chants, and performs on recorder in a number of movements. Barton
performs on the violin and the clariflute, a recorder with a clarinet
mouthpiece. According to the liner notes, both contributed to the
The work begins and ends with the ancient creation myth of the Wintu
Native Americans (more evidence of romanticism). The intervening
movements develop this creation theme. There are two musical techniques
that hold the movements together: drones and bird calls. The imported
and original musical ideas are then juxtaposed onto the recurring
drones and bird calls. The result is a very satisfying balance of
repetition and contrast.
Each movement has its own qualities, and yet each is related to
the whole. In addition, there are no distinct separations between
the movements, and one simply dissolves onto the next. It is a highly
Rainforest Images makes a powerful aural statement. The McLeans
have explored a wide range of timbres that are only available in
the electro-acoustic music medium. They have creatively incorporated
world music traditions. They have also utilized their own vocal
performance and performances on traditional and invented instruments.
The results are extremely impressive and I hope that the piece finds
a wide audience.
Somehow the McLeans were able to squeeze two more works onto this
disk. The first of these is Priscilla's 1986 work, On Wings of
Song, a short homage to the pesky insect. It is scored for soprano
voices, amplified bicycle wheel, and recorded bees and flies. The
bees and flies were recorded in a glass jar! I can not help but
wonder what kinds of microphones were used?
On Wings of Song is a short but effective work. The text
is from the 1911 book by Stewart Edward White, The Forest. Priscillas
voice is accompanied by the flies, bees, and wheel. It is difficult
to identify the sound sources, and the piece recalls many of the
drone techniques used in Rainforest Images.
The last work is Barton's 1992 piece, Himalayan Fantasy. Source material comes from his 1985 Hawaiian trip. There he
recorded Tibetan singers in their performance of a traditional pastoral
song. Mclean presents these to the listener initially in an unaltered
state. Ultimately they will become processed.
Himalayan Fantasy moves far away from the other works on
this CD. There are very few drones here, and the piece gradually
builds in intensity relying on rhythmically intensive passages.
The first fourteen to fifteen minutes just keeps driving, and driving,
and driving with no let up. The tension builds as layer upon layer
of rhythmic activity is added. An introduction of drones and a thinning
of timbres gradually lessens the intensity. The Tibetan singers
who introduced the work also end it.
Rainforest Images is a powerful CD. The McLean Mix has spent
years developing a distinct style. This CD is a testimony to their
musicianship, their creativity, and their commitment to mother earth
and the human race.
PS. The Mclean Mix recently announced a USA tour during the 1996
winter-spring season. Information regarding their offerings may
be obtained by calling Barton at (518) 658-3595."
Choice - June 1994 - Issue No. 46 - by Paul Turok
Images, by Priscilla and Barton McLean sound like an electronic
version of Villa-Lobos gone to seed (CPS-8617)."
Musical Instruments - June, 1994 - WB
"Barton and Priscilla
McLean are two composers whose dedication to nature and ecological
causes have guided their work. Over a number of years, they have
visited rainforest environments throughout the world, recording
sounds and or-ganizing them into pieces which they hope will raise
people's awareness of the need to preserve these delicate places.
Since 1989 they have been touring the world with their installation
"Rainforest," which consists of playback of tapes of rainforest
and other sounds, along with invited improvisation from mem-bers
of the public. By 1990, they had collected a number of tapes of
this installation and created, with assistance from the com-poser/electronic
technician Panaiotis, the lush 48 minute montage presented here.
To say that "Rainforest Images" is romantic is an under-statement.
The McLeans are consciously developing a very interesting late-2Oth
century hyper-romantic aesthetic. Their dedication to capital N Nature is of a piece with their Transcen-dentalist philosophy,
which unashamedly acknowledges its heritage of ideas from Thoreau,
Muir and, musically, Charles Ives. Their rich multi-layered mixes,
already charged with highly evocative bird and other animal calls,
are made even richer with their accompaniments, mostly consisting
of long notes, sustained chords, and ornamental flurries of electronic
bell and harp sounds; and also by Panaiotis' digital processing
and equalizing. Improvisations by three Australian musicians, on
didjeridu and voices, also add to the overall richness of sound.
For me, one of the fascinating things about this piece is how all
the types of sound used electronic sound; acoustic instru-ments,
straight, extended, and sampled; voices, straight and modified;
animal sounds; and digital processings of all of these merge into
one sort of "superorchestra." Nothing loses its identity,
but everything seems integrated into a kind of all-embracing sound
Readers of EMI will be particularly interested in Bart McLean's
clariflute (clarinet mouthpiece, recorder body) im-provisations
that start section 3 of the piece, which remind me of whalesong
(Whales in the rainforest? The metaphor is getting pretty broad
here!); and in Panaiotis' impressive digital modifications with
his "Extended Instrument System."
One issue the piece raises is that of exoticism. For most people,
the amazing sound of the Australian magpie, a recurring motive in
the piece, will probably be incredibly exotic. For Australians,
though, this extremely common sound will simply raise a familiar
smile. Who is exotic to whom?
Interesting comparisons can also be made as to how dif-ferent composers
use similar material. The Australian com-poser Ron Nagorcka's work
for sampled Australian bird calls, didjeridu and other acoustic
instruments, and political environ-mental poetry, for example, is
much leaner, and angrier, than the McLeans' luscious, almost sweet
sound mix; while English com-poser Trevor Wishart's use of animal
sounds in his 1977 "Red-bird" was for much darker and
more sinister purposes. By contrast, the McLeans' approach is optimistic
and reverential, "a myriad of voices raised in song to the
beauty of the rainforest," as they themselves describe it.
Also on the CD are two solo works, both on related themes. Priscilla
McLean's "On Wings of Song" is a hilarious homage to the
mosquito; while Barton McLean's "Himalayan Fantasy" takes
a recording of a Tibetan folksong and weaves an impres-sive electronic
tapestry around it."