Read the Review
The following review is an excerpt from Editor's Corner (March 2021) which can be read in its entirety here.
Music again led me to literature in the next instance, Taylor Brook’s Star Maker Fragments, commissioned and performed by the TAK Ensemble (takensemble.bandcamp.com/album/star-maker-fragments). I had not previously read Olaf Stapleton’s 1937 speculative fiction novel involving transcendental interstellar and time travel, and the melding of the narrator’s mind with other sentient beings (of all shapes and sizes) from other planets and other galaxies, in a story that encompassed the entire history of the universe. It’s also about galactic consciousness(es) and the creator – Star Maker – told from the perspective of a pacifist philosophy from a time when Europe was headed, seemingly inevitably, toward global conflict. Brook has excerpted fragments of the book for his text, which is narrated by the group’s soprano, Charlotte Mundy, accompanied by flute, bass clarinet, violin and percussion, with electronics by the composer. The piece was written explicitly for recording, making extensive use of multi-tracking, processing, sound synthesis and field recordings, but may also be performed in concert with ensemble and live electronics once COVID is a thing of the past. It is a very convincing encapsulation of the striking landmark book, lasting about 45 minutes and followed by an instrumental postlude. If you’re not familiar with Star Maker, this provides an intriguing introduction to the SF classic, whose more famous admirers include H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, Brian Aldiss, Doris Lessing, Stanisław Lem and Jorge Luis Borges, who called it “a prodigious novel.” Recommended.