It’s difficult to determine how Virtual Airport was put together. About 3:50 into the sixth movement, there’s an understated moment of union; a seemingly calculated moment of parallel thought, as though the spiralling trajectories of each individual instrument – voices, cello, piano, electronics – have miraculously encountered a mutual point of intersection. The execution of each part is bold, and the operatic voices swoop between notes with total conviction in their destination, slowing slightly as they slide into tonal joint, dragging out the instruments at the centre into ribbons of sustain or leaving them to scuttle and slip over. Yet there’s a sense of floating free – clutching at space without surrounding surfaces or context, forming chords that have no explicitly correct orientation; chance overlaps of simultaneous being, sometimes on a hideous slant and sometimes gorgeously aligned as if by accident.
The first half leaves me feeling hollowed out and vacant as I wander into SHUCK! – a night time drive through an untapped Essex, cradled in a membrane of idle politeness and nonchalantly posed fact, swaying just inches above the sinister. Laurie Tompkin’s electronics paint shadows rolling down from the surrounding hillsides and taps out the inaudible tension of “vibe” and body gesture, scratching at the dialogue through jarred beeps and headlight glare – siren-esque pulses, a lone walkie-talkie leaking dead air into an empty cave – and even when implication gathers grit in the closing seconds, with both sound and story hammering on the climactic ceiling, the point of eruption is withheld. Passages of Sam Quill’s poetry reside on either end: cryptic, tangling words that stride forth on tip-toes, providing points of entry and exit that cast me out into a distinct but intangible somewhere.