Reviewed by Paul Cooke
I had the good fortune to attend a live multimedia presentation of Life on Land’s Edge at the Newcastle Music Festival earlier this year – but while the visual component was impressive, the musical content was well able to stand alone. The Bowerbird Collective is Simone Slattery, violinist (and occasional vocalist and composer) and Anthony Albrecht, cellist, and between them they have curated this album, in the process co-commissioning, with BirdLife Australia, contributions from a number of Australian composers.
Life on Land’s Edge is subtitled ‘an ode to migratory shorebirds’ and is dedicated to the millions of birds which traverse the thousands of kilometres of the East-Asian-Australasian Flyway. Compositions by Corrina Bonshek (Far Eastern Curlew Lament) and Anne Cawrse (the flitting and dancing of the Ruddy Turnstone) focus in on a particular species. Chris Williams’ (Codex) on the flight of birds looks at the mechanics of motion of migratory flight. Philip Glass’s Opening initially jarred, until I realised that its shifting minimalist polyrhythms perfectly captured the vast distances the shorebirds travel. The liner notes are very informative.