Review Summary: I love the sound of your voice. Sorry I don't speak greek.
there’s something very comforting about the human voice, the sound of it. Especially for a child.
A lot of people claim they prefer to go to sleep with the TV on, or they put on a podcast. They feel comfort and are soothed by the sound of people’s voices, long after they stopped carrying any decipherable meaning.
I understand this feeling, even if I don’t partake in these practices, because I remember being taken to house parties and other gatherings at my folk’s friends’ when I was little.
After a while, like most kids, I got tired and left the adults, looking for a place to lay down. I remember vividly the feeling of drifting off to the sound of pleasant chatter, the faint sound of music, of glasses, of muffled movement. All of this covered by a layer of the damp, velvet feeling of night-time.
It can be argued, rather boringly, that one achieves this pleasant sleep because one feels safe, while the low dB / low frequencies that reach us give us a pleasant background that enhances this "safety" feeling. It’s also why we may find it easy to fall asleep while in the car.
I prefer to think that there’s also a warm magic to the sound of people talking. Or walking around, or just doing nothing. Just the sound of it can be entrancing, wrapping around us.
Aine O’dwyer seems to share this child-like wonder for human sound. For all sounds, really, to the point of fascination. And this wonder doesn’t stop at the pleasurable side of things.
While the first part starts with a fun little inversion of the performer-audience dichotomy, where Aine is at the same time performing for an audience, being the audience enjoying the performance (please talk if you like, i love the sound of your voice), and both her and the audience being the performance together, it doesn't take long for things to get noisy. We transition from a pastoral humming to a more unstable piece, with stabbing organ and anxious percussion, after which follows a short poem and another short organ piece. The part ends with a low sustained tone over which a high-pitched chirp comes up. The human background, meanwhile, goes from pleasant to expectant.
In Ella Capella the sounds of the street right outside the venue are interpreted and performed for and by the audience. Horns and insults layed down on an operating table, dissected and repeated to abstraction. A running tap, shutting gates and a barking dog are subject to similar operations during most of the second part, as well.
And while in anyone else’s hands this might come off as a pretentious and hermetic test of patience, more suited for analysis than enjoyment, on Aine’s playful hands it becomes both a game and a meditation.
Ainé prefers to let the sounds BE, and before any intention of purpose or meaning, she boldly puts them on display, asking of us to be more receptive, to open up and love them as they are.
Yes, she operates on sounds and breaks them apart in the process, but she does this not so much as a scientist or a surgeon, but more like a child, lovingly taking her toys out of their box and parading them to us.
This love and wonder sustents and permeates both pieces. I can’t help but wonder, too.