Recorded live as part of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival in June 2018, ‘Vesper’ is guitarist/composer Kim Myhr’s collaboration with the world-renowned Australian Art Orchestra, led by Peter Knight. A long-form, immersive work consisting of three movements that add up to a combined running time of just under one hour, it further demonstrates Myhr’s masterly command of complex musical resources and extended duration. ‘Vesper’ – which means “evening” in classical Latin – also reunites Myhr with drummer and percussionist Tony Buck, of Australia’s legendary improv trio The Necks. Buck was one of the three guest drummers featured on Myhr’s acclaimed Hubro recording ‘You | me’, shortlisted for the 2018 Nordic Music Prize alongside Bjork and Susanne Sundfør.
“I had been thinking for a while to do a night piece”, Kim Myhr says about the genesis of ‘Vesper’. “The music I’ve listened to the most, and which is perhaps the closest to me, is the music that I listen to in the hour before going to bed, when the tempo is a bit slower, and the expectations of the day are fading. Daniel Lanois talked about how they recorded Bob Dylan’s ‘Oh Mercy’ only in the night-time, because musicians tend to be more patient and relaxed then, and even play a few bpms slower. Although this is a nice idea, I was more focused on the music itself rather than the methodology. What interested me was the private spaces of night time, when the listener knows that nothing more will happen for the rest of the day. It’s an embracing and immersive space, where we can be at our most private and intimate.”
The music for ‘Vesper’ is embracing and immersive too, with an associative, dream-like quality that fits the night-time context to perfection. While each of the three movements could be said to follow its own internal logic and sense of development, capable of functioning as stand alone pieces if required, the overall span of the composition as a whole is suitably epic. The range of sounds is equally vast, from Kim Myhr’s own electric 12-string guitar with its special tunings, to the incredibly versatile resources of the ensemble – actually a septet for this date, but sounding far larger. Live instrumental parts for brass, woodwind, strings and percussion are complemented by re-processing from Joe Talia on Revox tape deck and electronics, with Peter Knight covering electronics and hammered dulcimer as well as trumpet. Combined with Tony Buck’s maelstrom of percussion, the overall effect is thrillingly intense, with each mounting climax coming close to a sensory overload, while quieter stretches can seem to roll by timelessly in a somnambulant haze.