Listening Room

15 Lei LiangLei Liang – Hearing Landscapes/Hearing Icescapes
Lei Liang
New Focus Recordings FCR360 ( 


Hearing Landscapes: I. High Mountain - Listen on YouTube

Hearing Landscapes: II. Mother Tongue - Listen on YouTube

Hearing Icescapes: Pt. I. Call - Listen on YouTube


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Lei Liang’s disc Hearing Landscapes/Hearing Icescapes could easily have opened with the voice of Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise as it sets off to “go where no man has ever gone before.” With a sense of deep mysticism and a philosophical and artistic leap, Liang has first pierced the celestial dome of the sky and then returned to plumb the roar of the deep. 

On the riveting works of this album the composer has created a sonic diptych that beckons the listener to traverse with him from celestial heights to oceanic depths. In the first work – Hearing Landscapes – Liang takes off from the terrestrial promontory guided by the invisible hand (brush, really) of Huang Binhong, a fin de siècle painter, whose landscapes prove inspirational. 

On the opening movement of the work the composer also gives wing to a Chinese folk song sung by the celebrated Zhu Zhonglu from Qinghai, in Northwestern China. The mournful lyric gives way to the jagged soundscape of electronics, becoming eerily speech-like at one point in the second movement, ultimately evaporating by the end of the final part of the work. 

Liang, though, is far from done and the album continues in the raspy rustling of Hearing Icescapes, constructed around field recordings made literally 300 metres below the surface of the Chuckchi Sea north of Alaska. On paper this sounds impenetrable. Nevertheless, the performance of the whole score carries its powerful physical weight, obviating the necessity of narrative clarity.

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