Sarah Hennies: Motor Tapes
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80844     Release Date: 2024-05-24

ensemble 0: Stéphane & Julien Garin, percussion; Talea Ensemble: James Baker, conductor; Ensemble Dedalus: Didier Aschour, guitar and artistic direction

I’m just so happy that this album is coming out. I wouldn’t say it’s the best thing I’m ever going to make, but it certainly is the best thing I’ve made thus far. It feels like I’m composing a person. A vivid, rich picture of a life, of a brain.  —  Sarah Hennies                                        

Sarah Hennies (b. 1979) is a composer and percussionist whose work is concerned with a variety of musical, sociopolitical, and psychological issues including queer & trans identity, psychoacoustics, and the social and neurological conditions underlying creative thought.

The booklet for this, her second New World recording, features an extensive and wide-ranging conversation with the composer, wherein Hennies discusses her compositional practice and how these three pieces—all in some way related to brain activity, specifically mood disorders and circadian rhythm—represent an important step in the evolution of her work.

“[T]hese works do signal a transformation. Up until Clock Dies, for instance, every piece I had written involved a stopwatch. But Talea Ensemble wanted a work with a conductor, and so Clock Dies was the first piece I made where I thought, “Let’s see if I can make chamber music.” So Clock Dies is through-composed; of course there’s lots of repetition, there’s a form with sections and climaxes—things happen. There’s a more traditional kind of contrast in Clock Dies and really in all three of these pieces. But Clock Dies specifically was the first piece where I challenged myself in a practical way to see if I could make “normal” music.

Motor Tapes is … well, it came about in a similarly practical way, where because of when the commission [from Ensemble Dedalus] came and where it was being played, I had a long time to make it. And I really, really wanted to challenge myself to make something with a lot of detail, to work harder on something than I had in the past. There’s a Word-doc outline of Motor Tapes that’s pages long because it got so complicated. And finishing the last 20% was so challenging; it had become so unwieldy that I had to make a to-do list of tasks because I couldn’tview it as a totality anymore. And now that it’s done and I can see it as a whole, there’s a very clear order of events, a script, it follows a very birth-to-death trajectory …”

Various Artists

Sarah Hennies: Motor Tapes

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Track Listing

Zeitgebers
Sarah Hennies
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Clock Dies
Sarah Hennies
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Motor Tapes
Sarah Hennies
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