Glacier Music II is the rare sequel worth seeking out. Five years removed from its predecessor, the album continues to track the effects of climate change on one of earth’s most precious resources. An informative booklet accompanies the disc and provides valuable information (along with some stunning photographs) for those interested in this crucial issue.
Glacier Music I began with the recording of melting glaciers in Tujuksu, followed by the extension to an audio-visual project. Lillevan is the project director, responsible for the projections that give the concerts added impact. For the newest chapter, the Goethe-Institut collected sound recordings on a Kazakhstan glacier, already down to only one-third its originally measured size. The opportunities for intervention are shrinking at at alarming pace. But not all the sounds are so far away: Robert Lippok contributes the sounds of snow recorded outside a car window and branches collected from the ground. The trick is to make the connection between the far and the near. As Eto Gelashvili writes, “We need to realize that if we continue to live like this, the beauty of nature can turn into something very dangerous and not so beautiful.” Aside Anushka Chkheidze and Hayk Kiroyi, these artists make an album worth hearing in order to draw attention to information even more worth hearing.
The variety of sounds is a prime attraction, from field recording to music to folk song. The first sound is flowing water, introducing “m3⁄s,” which refers to the flow rate of a glacier. The music is tender, soft and low. “Infinite” sends brass to the stars, but refers to “an infinity within ourselves,” and soon turns inward with thoughtful piano and keyboard tones. Then the sweet sung tones of Scanish lullaby “Sleeping glacier,” projecting pure serenity. The collective never loses sight of the glacier’s aesthetic appeal along with its environmental importance. But lurking over these kind tones is an ever-present threat, conveyed by the sleet of “Aisi” and the drips of “Numbers drop,” accompanied by an actual count. It’s possible to count the drops of a melting glacier, but these drops are not infinite; once the glaciers are gone, we will likely be gone as well.
But it doesn’t have to end this way. The efforts of Lillevan, Lippok and a huge host of like-minded individuals is evidence that many people care enough to invest their lives in this issue. If the disc prompts others to turn their gaze to the glaciers, we may yet be able to preserve this beauty ~ and stability ~ for future generations. (Richard Allen)