Bekah Simms – Ghost Songs
Thomas Morris; Amanda Lowry; Kalun Leung; Joseph Petric
people | places | records PPR 031 (peopleplacesrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-songs)
Bekah Simms’ most recent release, Ghost Songs, continues to explore her expert electronic music compositional ideas in four works for solo instrumentalists. The first three tracks are part of her mind-boggling Skinscape series, featuring the interaction of a soloist playing traditional/extended techniques live, with an electronically disembodied version of themselves. Skinscape II (2019), with soloist Thomas Morris (oboe), combines contrasting oboe and electronic sounds which at times melt together, or contrast like the high-pitched oboe notes above a softer electronic background. In Skinscape I (2017), flutist Amanda Lowry’s superb extended techniques, fast trills and melodic lines are coupled by such gratifying electronic effects as spooky growling, pitch-bending tones and airy background sounds. Skinscape III (2021) features loud attention-grabbing electronic wailing effects, trombonist Kalun Leung’s held notes and the almost painful gritty sounding electronics, which subside with the calm closing trombone. In an acousmatic version of Jubilant Phantoms (2021), Simms combines fragments from accordionist Joseph Petric’s recordings with electronic echoing chordal drones. The combination of higher pitched accordion sounds and lower electronic pitches creates an especially beautiful effect.
Recording and production are fantastic! Simms’ compositions range from disconcerting and perhaps troubling sounds to calming breathy sound environments. Her electro and acoustic instrumental sound combinations open the door to a new world of music all her own.
The Canadian Music Centre has just announced Simms as the winner of the 2022 Harry Freedman Recording Award for Metamold, a work for large ensemble and electronics. Metamold was a triple commission from Crash Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, and NYNME as a result of Simms winning the prestigious 2019 Barlow Prize.