The sound world of Anthony Vine is monolithic, an impenetrable unity. It feels harsh, like metal. Impregnable even, but if you move around it for some time the structure starts to crumble. Or better: it shows little gaps; small entries appear while the material heats and liquefies. Underneath the surface a beautiful and versatile microtonal world can be discovered.
Vine’s music is static and moldable at the same time. “I conceptualize my music through a sculptural lens. Reminiscent of geological strata, my sonic environments are constructed from many layers of fragile, unstable instrumental activity. As the music unfolds, I bring these topographic layers in and out of relief with an acute sensitivity to timbre and texture.”
There is a strong connection to the visual arts in Vine’s work. His piece For Agnes Martin for example, named after the painter of the same name: “Her work is very static and austere. I wanted to capture Martin’s translucent, monochromatic color fields by layering fragile harmonic sonorities, glacially morphing them over time.” Even the implied movement in a painting can form the inspiration for the structure of a piece: “I remember seeing an enormous painting by Anselm Kiefer in the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, an engulfing dark spiraling surface of thick paint filled with mud and grass. The spiral seemed so musical and time-based. The twisting spiral greatly influenced the form and trajectory of my orchestra piece Transmission.”
Besides Vine’s interest in visual arts, he is drawn to dance. From a Forest of Standing Mirrors extracts its name from Umwelt, a performance by the French choreographer Maguy Marin. It is a stage filled with mirrors wherein dancers perform mundane activities while a persistent band of white noise floods the room. “Choreography has significantly influenced my work. Early on, I did a lot of collaborations with choreographers, mostly creating tape pieces for pre-existing choreography. More recently, I have become interested in performing live improvised works, creating sonic counterpoints to movement.” Working with dance has informed his music considerably: “thinking about instruments and musicians more as bodies that are engaging in a choreographic action has made me more mindful of the corporeality of sound production and the choreography of performance in my concert music.”
Photo © Anna van Kooij