Long-distance collaborations have always existed, although the internet launched a new era via shared files. In the time of COVID, forced distancing has been a burden, while the ability to collaborate has been a boon. The virus is invisible, but so are the ties that bind: the basis for this shared recording.
Each artist recorded a track that was sent to three other artists for overdubs, then returned to the first artist for a final mix. The identities were withheld, although in some cases one might hazard healthy guesses due to the timbres used by each artist. Yet unlike other compilations, Invisible is meant to be a gesture of humility: the artists sublimating any need for individual recognition in order to celebrate the existence of music, the beauty of collaboration, and the strength of the artistic community, even when physically apart.
Over the course of the album, the invisible becomes visible: while individual connections are hard to glean, an overall sense of connection develops. From quiet beginnings ~ the soft voice in Adrian Lane’s “An Occasional Hushed Word” ~ the album branches into a tree of peace. Rough textures give Melt’s “Trigg & Gusset” an edge, like a recognition of difficulty without focusing on the trauma. Yet ambience takes over the center of the set, as artists normally known for modern composition offer their most soothing tones, reaching an emotional peak in Benjamin Louis Brody’s “Lament – a Meditation for Sustained Instruments.” In this piece the strings reach for the stars, transcending earthly troubles if only for the course of a few minutes. How much is Brody and how much is the work of others? It matters not: these artists really are, to quote a key 2020 theme, in this together. So when the strings continue in Thomas Méreur’s “Left Behind and Irretrievably Lost,” we wonder if they are the same strings, and imagine commonality; when Méreur’s piano is followed by Glacis’ piano in “You Are Born,” we imagine a dialogue in which the second offers hope to the first.
We’ve saved the most heartwarming aspect for last: all proceeds go to help children suffering from COVID through Mary’s Meals. The cost of the collection can feed a child for half a year, which may seem impossible, but reflects the rate of exchange in developing countries. In many ways, children are the most invisible of victims, but to these artists and the Preserved Sound label, they are seen, cherished and loved. (Richard Allen)