Review: Claire M Singer – Fairge

Claire M Singer reveals that the ocean is present within Fairge. The title comes from the Scottish Gaelic word for “the sea” or “the ocean”. Water ripples across the album cover. And with that, I am swept into thoughts of the water as her music gathers from layers of cello, organ and electronics. Those held organ chords trace the horizon line, shimmering as moonlight skates across it. Overtones bulge and recede like those tiny, transient waves that bring the entire surface into motion, fleeting to the point of illusory. And then, less materially, I feel the optimism of peering into the void, facing away from the frank and firm surfaces of terrestrial concern, absorbing a view whose flux is a rich, ever-renewing state of possibility, mesmeric for its absence of endings and limits. Fairge is, after all, seemingly edgeless. Stereo space is not the breadth to which sound must abide but the mere brink of what my ears can perceive, and I imagine these drones to stretch far beyond what can be fathomed by the context of recorded audio.

And so as Fairge rouses itself unevenly – upon wavering, almost discordant clouds of breath and shrill whistle – I take it that it is me, the listener, who is the cause of this bleary beginning, my hearing still soft and distant as I awake. The chords deepen. The detail starts to crystallise. Pitches begin to stabilise. Fairge becomes less a cluster of unsympathetic hums, and more a single organism surging back and forth as a coherent whole as my mind starts to perceive it as such: the surface bristling with small cyclical movements, the low frequency depths surging between greater tidal changes. The longer I listen, the more I start to imagine the presence of voices within the flow, peripheral perception teased by those little quivers of water. And while the piece might technically be a mere 20 minutes long, it ultimately rolls out across eternity. Like a stretched out pop song, each chord is pitched as a heartfelt beckoning of the next, gifted movement from the interplay between longing and fulfilment. Again, the conclusion of Fairge is rather a symbol of my departure. The ocean melts as my senses slip toward slumber; still present, but silent. It will still be there when I return.