COME KINGDOM COME
The music of Maile's latest work enters into labyrinths. It is they that lead you rather than us as listeners that have the control. It will take me some time to listen to this work & that is the sign that there is much more than surface to hear. My ears are alerted, ready to listen repeatedly
Jez Riley French
Maile Colbert's Come Kingdom Come explores drones and dreams , spaces and silences, whispers and disappearances.
Liturgical voices call across histories: field recordings from an old world of disturbances.
Colbert interweaves elegant, almost liturgical vocal lines, combining them with lush tones and electronic textures.
The resulting composition is a dramatic and vivid odyssey that reveals fragments from a mysterious ancient past within a distinctly contemporary narrative. A beautiful work.
Come Kingdom Come is an incredibly moving and mysterious piece of work. Its many layers of sound reveal just as many layers of meaning and feeling. From the opening songs of the magnetosphere to the elegiac final act, I was enthralled by Maile's masterful blend of the digital and the organic to evoke something deeply human and emotional.
MAILE COLBERT – COME KINGDOM COME (CD by Two Acorns)
The album Come Kingdom Come of Maile Colbert is the third release of Two Acorns, a label run by Will Long of Celer. Everyone who knows the music of Will Long will know that this release will stand for a high standard of quality, lot of attention to artwork and spherical music. The album “Come Kingdom Come” suits well into this concept. The album is an opera based on “The Book of Revelations” and poetry of Ian Colbert. The Book of Revelations is the last book of the bible. The words have been sung by the classically trained soprano Gabriela Crowe and the music is composed an played by Maile Colbert. Maile Colbert is an artist who is working in the fields of sound-art and video. She works in Lisboa – Portugal and New York – USA. The music of the album is a beautiful mix of drones, electronic music, classical music, hymns, minimal music and field-recordings. The album is dedicated to Dani, the woman of Will Long who sadly died a few years ago.
For me this album is a complete musical surprise. Having grown up in a traditional Christian family, for me The Book of Revelations was a book full of anger, despair, anxiety and also hope for a new world. The atmosphere of Come Kingdom Come is more meditative, melancholic and modest. Maile Colbert creates a quiet intense sphere and combines the classical voice of Gabriela Crowe into her electronic world. Sometimes her voice has a major role, at other moments the voice is like a repeating sample that takes floods together with tones like an church-organ or other wind-instruments. The last track is based on the poem Song for the End of Time of Ian Colbert. The voice is somewhere far away and filtered and integrated with abstract electronic sounds. This album is a beautiful interpretation of the last days of the earth. Most of the interpretations about this theme are full of drama. Maile Colbert creates are worthy good-bye of the end of times and a global consolation for all who lost people they loved.
(JKH), Vital Weekly
... qu’elle soit, la notion d’opéra expérimental n’est pas à prendre au pied de la lettre, du moins quand elle est signée MAILE COLBERT. Surprenante collision entre impressionnisme electronica et chant d’inspiration classique (où la soprano Gabriella Crowe fait merveille, à tel point qu’on la verrait bien en chanteuse de fado convertie en ‘Mater Dolorosa’), le ‘Come Kingdom Come’ (Two Acrons) de la compositrice américaine varie les atmosphères et les époques, tout en parvenant, ô miracle, à sonner d’un confondant naturel. Tout au long de l’œuvre, le médiéval s’intègre au contemporain sans forcer la dose, alors que sur papier, tous les antagonismes étaient réunis pour déboucher sur une catastrophe intégrale. Mieux encore, les premiers instants écoulés, on oublie au plus vite les intentions expérimentales de son auteure, fondues dans la pertinence d’un projet séduisant et ambitieux.
Anybody making field recordings in Chernobyl is gonna get our attention. Couple that with an allegorical framework about the end of time rendered through allusions from the book of Revelation, and we're even more intrigued. Come Kingdom Come is an impressive modern classical record with all of these traits, those flourishes gracing orchestrations of strings, voice, and electronics, not too dissimilar to the likes of a Johann Johannsson or (dare we say?) Arvo Part. Colbert is an American composer currently living in Portugal with a hand in running the Binaural Residency Program, and has slowly been composing this body of work for years now. In fact, she performed a variation of this piece as a multimedia presentation collecting live VLF signals that she located within her glassine electronics and a video triptych (courtesy of Olivia Block) at The Lab in San Francisco back in 2012. For all of these terminal thoughts and ominous overtones, Colbert conjures a spacious, if somber atmosphere that hangs upon the languid swells from Colbert's sparse arrangements for plaintive piano and strings, sporadically accompanied by vocals from Gabrielle Crowe, who in turn alternates between chorale dreaminess and operatic libretto. The electronics and field recordings too are sparsely situated throughout the album, often presented as ghosts and echoes to the clusters of piano or strings or voice. Come Kingdom Come is a lovely album for sure and was released on Celer's imprint Two Acorns.
Jim Haynes, Aquarius Records
A “romantically coherent” woman in operational mode across overlapping areas of aesthetic manifestation, Maile Colbert explains Come Kingdom Come as a correspondence of sorts between the last two turns of millennium, as the wrong conception of mankind members as self-believed deciding factors in a life’s course becomes the reminder of a contemptible illusion of ascendancy on their close surroundings (and beyond, I should add). The live performance is enriched by Block’s experimental photographic artistry – a short sampling can be seen here – yet the CD alone warrants plenty of semi-clandestine emotions. Quasi-mystic music replete with fleeting communications and unusual signals integrated with verses penned by Colbert’s brother Ian and poly-idiomatic lyrics mostly sung by Crowe with an appreciably unostentatious tone, a welcome decency defining a quietly significant acoustic milieu.
The voice’s cardinal role does not detract from superbly exercised electronic makeups, the harmonic laws ruling this fictional microcosm reconfigured and frequently misshapen. The sounds may appear tactile, melted or just damaged according to what the score (mainly based on the Book Of Revelation) requires at a given juncture. Unclear location frequencies attributable to the aftermath of serious cosmological modifications (tsunamis, earthquakes, the desolate silence around Chernobyl, a sun storm hitting the magnetosphere, plus echoes of local faunas) improve a textural hypothesis that embraces both the composer’s consciousness and unwilled hints. For example, in one of the most riveting tracks on offer – “Act Three, Day From Arrival” – the processing of reiterative vocal snippets originates an involuntary callback of Akira Rabelais’ glorious Spellewauerynsherde. However, this work is not a mere container of symbols of causation. On the contrary, it’s a brilliant exhibit of Colbert’s capacity of turning potentially misrepresented human issues into something evoking the aching delight of intensity, remaining wordlessly mesmerized in the meantime.
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
Maile Colbert's so-called “experimental opera”—“experimental chamber opera” might be more accurate—is a tad mystifying but no less pleasurable for being so. On content grounds, The New Testament's “Book of Revelation” acts as as a springboard for a work conceptually rooted in ideas about apocalypse and the recent millennium turn; musically, the score blends Ian Colbert's poetry with medieval chant and features the singing of the classically trained soprano Gabriela Crowe as well as guest contributions of unspecified design from Tellemake (tracks one, three, five, and six) and Jessica Constable and Rui Costa (track eight).
That Colbert, a media artist, writer, and educator who once lived in Los Angeles but now calls Lisbon, Portugal home, has created something unconventional—at least as far as traditional opera conventions are concerned—is readily apparent from the outset, with “Ouverture For That Day” eschewing the customary orchestral sounds for electronic textures one more associates with ambient-electronic soundscaping. Choral voices emerge quietly, their presence muted somewhat by a dense swirl of electroacoustic sounds and nature field recordings. The seven parts that follow likewise challenge expectations by in some ways falling in line with opera conventions—in Crowe's refined delivery, for example—but in other ways deviating boldly from them, particularly in the experimental sound design. Perhaps the boldest display of contrast occurs when “Act Three, Day From Arrival” merges programmed beat patterns and electronics with baroque string elements and church organ.
A hallucinatory quality often permeates the work, in particular when Crowe's supplications intermix with other disembodied voices, choral and otherwise, within the haunted dronescapes “Act One, Begins,” “Act Four, Four Falling Branches,” and “Act Five, A Fluid Dawn.” As dreamlike is “Act Two, Two Vessels,” where murkiness is embraced to a marked degree. As compelling as Colbert's work is, it's Crowe's contribution to the recording that merits special mention. Without her presence, the work's oft-ponderous instrumental presentation would come across as emotionally cool and less involving; to cite one example, Crowe's anguished expression raises the emotional temperature of “Act One, Begins,” and her singing makes a critical difference elsewhere, too.Come Kingdom Come is an enigmatic work but a captivating tapestry nonetheless, and one Will Long should be proud to have appear on his Two Acorns label.
OTHER REVIEWS OF COME KINGDOM COME
“In discussing a recent installation, LA based sound designer and film maker Maile Colbert emphasized the importance of reconstructed memories, even if they are generated through repression, disassociation or the inaccurate recollection of factual details. These ideas continue on Moborosi, a collection of abstracted vignettes published through Paul Bradley’s imprint. This is quite the detour from Bradley’s typical preference for deep drone work; instead, Colbert offers a delicate array of structural loops and backwards lullabies. At times, she positions granulated samples of digital errata in lockstep with mechanised loops; elsewhere, her compositions drift in a out of placid Ambient passages. Colbert counters the porcelain fragility and cool detachment found throughout these recordings on “Day of Fire”, which features the plainsong vocals of Gabriela Crowe. In the bricolage of fleeting details and smeared electronica, her voice is a baroque feature which suggests the kind of surrogate memory that Colbert seems to be searching for.”
Review by Jim Haynes, The Wire 286, December 2007
.. "Maile Colbert has mentioned that she needs the help of all senses to feel “whole” and a balanced person. A director, video artists and composer, all aspects of her work are mutually influenced by each other, each uttering constituting a synthesis of the most diverse disciplines. .. This may be a reason why she is currently working on completing an ambitious opera project on “millennialism and apocalyptic thought and theory” with singer Gabriela Crowe. Opera, after all, has traditionally been seen as the art of arts and the one genre which binds all others together. It does not seem far-fetched, therefore, to regard “moborosi”, as much as it has been conceived as a self-sufficient album, as the overture to the larger work taking shape in the background. .. In fact, it may be regarded as a concise introduction into her oeuvre as a whole. This just over thirty minute long debut contains a collaboration with above mentioned Gabriela Crowe, features poetry by her brother Ian as well as her soundtrack contributions to “How little we know of our Neighbors”, Rebecca Baron’s documentary on the “Mass Observation” public spying project in the UK - and fully demonstrates her versatility and ability to integrate her personal approach into the equally idiosyncratic work of others. .. As a composer, Colbert’s style may be characterised by a perfect symbiosis between the ages: Monophonic chant, classical themes and reverb-pedalled broken piano chords have the same status on “moborsi” as aerial, translucent drones, backwards-played themes, electric configurations and filtered synthesizers, without anything appearing irregular or out of place. .. Another distinct feature consists in her technique of naturally placing these musical objects within close range of each other and of playing them back simultaneously, without regard of whether this does their historic background justice or whether their tonalities match for 100%. .. This is not meant to be disrespectful. Colbert merely sees and hears with different eyes and ears, her entire sensory system is geared towards an intuitive view of the world and towards finding out “how elements (...) around us effect us psychologically and physiologically”. Just as if she were using the short stretch of this album as a space for reflection, it keeps coming back to the same trains of thought, with some strings overlapping and synthesizing as part of a Freud’ean materialism. .. Everything on this record is self-referential, with tracks popping out of other pieces like smaller babushkas hiding inside their taller counterparts: The piano of “Day of Fire” is part of “Broken Camera Sunset”, the barely one-minute long “Sweet still Sleep” is contained within “primitive” and the abstract rhythmic charges of “begin” act as a Leitmotif for the entire work. .. Consequently, a hermetic, haunting, slightly surreal and yet inwardly quiet mood is predominant on “moborosi”, its structures speaking to each other in tongues, as its body awakens in the middle of a full-moon night, startles and falls back to sleep again. Still, things are never opaque or oblivious – Colbert’s artistic language is clear and coherent, her tone soft and void of radical outbursts. .. There is no need at all for her to feel envious of her brother’s abilities as a chef, expressing himself fully through his food. While she may need the help of all senses to function as a person, her music definitely doesn’t need any visuals to be appreciated."
Tobias Fischer, Tokafi
.. "Processed with flange, reverb, and delay, these pieces are bunkered in breathy, teeming harmonics that hover above these clusters of incandescent notes, which time and again culminate in a bending skyward wail. .. In its thirty-minute life-span, the action is often heavily stylised and cross-cutting different genres - shifting quickly, yet meaningfully, from these passages, to even more discrete moments, where loops are constantly shifting by tiny degrees. In addition, during these more vigilant sections, Colbert’s style, with its oblique use of tonality, is colourful and alluring, but also wry, detached and frigid. .. Thus, pieces such as "Day Of Fire" work with a racing, tumbling loop, filled up by tiny glitches like rocks rolling down a streambed, and deflated by languorous descents into near stillness. All of this reaches its zenith in "Blinding Begin Again", which builds slow dynamic curves by countering long probing lines with soft anchoring tones that leave the impression that all is evaporating into impenetrable darkness. Taken together, then, Moborosi reveals a complex and adaptable figure in Colbert."
Max Schaefer, EARlabs
.. "Maile Colbert, from Los Angeles, is a filmmaker, video and sound artist whose activities include teaching sonic design and applying her craft to other people's work, especially in the movie, documentary and installation areas. "Moborosi" is the author's misspelling of the Japanese word "Maborosi", which should approximately be translated as "phantasmic light" and enclose vague concepts of "otherworldly, a bit lonely, a bit of longing, a bit of hope and wonder" (a monk indicated a distant luminescence in the nocturnal view of an harbour to give Colbert an idea of what this concept means). Of the same importance is the quality of the record which, although not exactly conforming to the Twenty Hertz canon of advanced electronica, evolved ambient and droning soundscapes, is truly of the "short and sweet" kind, lasting in fact only half an hour filled with moments to be repeatedly savoured and definitely remembered. The composer is extremely clever in her choice of not fossilizing herself on a specific setting, possessing an uncanny ability in elaborating the right alternance of evocative ambiences and juxtaposed pictures, offering a series of aural snapshots whose contrasting character outgrows the limits of the recorded format to expand within our system with the delicacy of a fine perfume. We hear voices singing in Latin and reciting poetry amidst slowly melting backgrounds, misshapen dreams, strange loops of electric bass, a carillon reproducing "Greensleeves", snippets from old records -- la Janek Schaefer, female choirs, environmental fragments, impressive subterranean frequencies, interferences abruptly changing a previously oneiric scenario. The listeners are put in confront with those invisible entities that dematerialize thoughts during the REM phase of sleep. It's a very personal style, despite being made of pretty familiar elements; we're not too far off the target when suggesting names like Helena Gough and Gavin Bryars as just two of the many entrance points for an optimal approach to this deeply inquisitive release."
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
Disembodied voices both rue and rule the day on Moborosi, the debut album by Los Angeles native Colbert, but it’s not a disorienting effect — something that carries with it the implication of the remote and the disconnected. Rather, it’s an album of collected moments (like a photo album), of birds and crickets and cities changing and possibly musical instruments in there someplace — moments that inspire the curiosity of a child without the vaguest smidge of fear. Inspiring close and attentive listening, it’s a collection of spaces: hollow spaces, tinny spaces, private spaces and “in what universe is this?” spaces. You come away from Moborosi with the feeling that something slightly profound just happened, and you won’t know quite what it is. Not yet.
David Cotner, Signal to Noise
.. "A work in perpetual rote, longing for a corner or glimmer, or surface, fallen and astonished, grieving, hopeful in transit, and beginning, only beginning, to view the photo-negative, or blur where heat is rising and the entropy of things is faintly ok"
Ian Colbert, poet and brother