Digital Albums
Artist: Soriah

Chao Organica in A Minor

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Tracklist & Samples

Chao Organica in A Minor 1 listen
Chao Organica in A Minor 2 listen

Description:

Aquarius Records - The processes of the mysterious composer / sound sculptor Soriah are almost as interesting as the strange and otherworldly music he creates. The live performance, the setting, is often a spiritual complement to the composition itself, taking place in haunted tunnels, in treetops, in the deserts, in churches, all adding to the mysterious ceremonial aspect of each piece, as do the extensive costumes, head-dresses, totems, tribal garments, all combined with Soriah's background in Butoh, Yoga and other ritualistic practices, lend his music a timeless and mysterious air. A dark pagan dance of drones and dark ambience. After numerous, super limited, self published and hand made art editions, this is Soriah's first proper release, and it's totally breathtaking. Two lengthy pieces, for vocals, pipe organ and effects, Soriah conjures up a haunting sonic otherworld, drifting, dreamy, menacing and malefic, a rumbling, whirring dark ambient dronescape, thick with the natural timbre of the wheezing pipe organ, and dense with subtle overtones from the various vocals. A deft mash up of ancient classical musicks and modern experimental drone based minimalism, a heady blend of Messiaen, Mirror, Coleclough, Dead Can Dance, Jacula, Niblock, and Eastern ragas. A dusty old pipe organ, built in 1881, lays the groundwork, a rich, thick, multilayered bed, subtle overtones, rich swirling drones, notes and melodies shimmer and beat against each other, creating strange movements, a thick wash of chordal whir that pulses and breathes like it was alive. The organ is intertwined with various vocals, sometimes crooning, alien and operatic, but more often an impossibly low-end rumble, a dense and deep Tuvan style throat singing, buzzing and multilayered, more like some strange long stringed instrument than a human voice. Crumbling and corrosive, but at the same time soothing and ethereal. The vocals drifting through various effects, become smears and stretches that blend and blur into the overall droneworld. Definitely one of the darkest and dreamiest drone records in recent memory, and all the more compelling in that this is not just a simple tone or set of tones, slowly shifting, know this is a rich and vibrant live ritual, you can feel the organ vibrate, the vocals curl around you like some ripe exotic smoke, this music is alive, soft and inviting, but dangerous and dreamlike. A bit like SUNNO))) armed only with church organs, and accompanied by Huun-Huur-Tu, a massive physical drone, a huge deliriously suffocating wall of rumble, like laying at the bottom of a pit, eyes closed, and being buried alive by soft sound. So good.

Like a bolt from the blue, the saccharine rich organ drone sets the supper for this winding piece of esoterica. Take equal parts Messiaen organ atones and the beguiling, echoed baritone moans of a disembodied spirit (with just a dash of pungent myrrh pouring over a cup of the very thickest Turkish coffee) and the environs of Soriah are partially breached. This magnificent choral suite for antique church organ is paired with a second vocal suite for Tuvan throat singing. The bone trembling multi-timbres of Soriah's commanding throat singing crack open and become a cathedral as the rumbling is pulled through a wash of electronic effects. Of chaos is a new religion erected. Soriah's crushing passion play becomes a bombastic bodhisattva that leaves all average messiahs staying indoors for the second coming. Also sprach Soriah! For fans of drone, Mirror, Coleclough, Af Ursin and avant-garde that stands the test of time.
From out of the fir-lined mists of the Pacific Northwest's primordial musical soup is spawned the singular performance and sound sculptor Soriah. Spilling initially from a rock and roll womb, but building on years of intensive studies in Tuvan throat singing and classical Indian raga chanting, Soriah both subverts and elevates tradition by weaving the avant-garde into the ancient. Whether backed by hand percussion, or accompanying himself on organ, or with electronics, or wailing a cappella, a thick, echoing, thaumaturgic atmosphere is carved out of the thin, vibrating air that rushes between vocal chords. Performance is an integral part of Soriah's Choa-sphere. Concerts played in haunted tunnels, from trees, in the desert, in churches and other far-flung venues are more the rule than the exception. Elaborate costumes, often incorporating authentic head-dresses and other tribal garments and totems, are another hallmark. The costumes are worn partly in beatific reverence and partly for the sake of how they move. Soriah's grounding in the study of butoh, yoga and other physically based rituals completes the circle of the experimental shaman; a circle which will continue to propagate as the only constant with Soriah is change. After numerous home and hand made releases Soriah is finally poised to light out into the world at large through his first recording on Beta-lactam Ring Records.

About the organ used for the performance:

Soriah

Yesteryear

Between 1872 and 1886 Hook and Hastings of Roxbury, Massachusetts installed five tracker-action organs in Portland. One of these organs was installed in 1883 in Calvary Presbyterian Church, now The Old Church.  This "tracker-action" organ - one that uses mechanical connections, no electricity, to produce a unique pipe organ sound - was hand-pumped.

Evolution

After installation, the organ was used regularly for Presbyterian church services.  By mid-century, the instrument had lost some of its natural tonal beauty.  Two key ranks of pipes, the trumpet and oboe, were missing, and two others had been poorly altered, thus reducing the musical effectiveness and range of repertoire. Cosmetic alternation to the case included several coats of paint, and perishable parts had naturally deteriorated. An electric blower had been installed around 1920. Fortunately, no mechanical alteration ever occurred.

Discovery

In 1969 the church building, a fine example of "Carpenter Gothic" architecture, was saved from demolition by a group of devoted citizens. The Old Church Society, Inc., a private nonprofit group, was formed to purchase and restore the building and open it for public use and enjoyment. It was at that time that the organ's historic significance was discovered. Since then, careful records have been kept and ongoing efforts sustained to reclaim the organ for its historic and musical merit. In 1976 the organ was cleaned and a few of its worst problems were corrected.


Photo by Dan Sadler - click on photo for larger image.

Significance

Several organs built in the 19th century reside in the Northwest, but The Old Church organ is the oldest Northwest tracker-action organ in its original location. Even more important, the organ never was converted to electricity, the popular practice that swept the country during the first half of the 20th century. The decision not to convert the instrument, most likely prompted by lack of funds and interest, saved the very qualities so valued and rare today.

The Old Church organ is a fine example of the work of Hook and Hastings, a prominent organ building firm in 19th century North America. It has an authentic Victorian-era pipe organ sound and is valued for its intrinsic musicality and as a splendid vehicle for performing a wide range of music, old and new. It is also a treasured link to the past, helping us to better understand the art of organ-building.

Performance

The primary space inside The Old Church is the 300-seat auditorium, a warm and inviting space blessed with outstanding acoustics.  The organ is the main focus, standing front and center, flanked by beautiful Povey Bros. stained glass windows and facing a semicircle of curved wooden pews. Since 1969, the public has enjoyed over 700 free organ concerts. Our weekly sack lunch concert series continues to feature the organ regularly.

Restoration

The organ was fully restored in 1997, in time to be featured at the national convention of the Organ Historical Society, that year held in Portland. This international conclave of organ players, builders and fans agreed unanimously that both the sound and appearance of the instrument were beautifully restored to their original glories. This work was performed by Richard Bond, of Bond Organ Co., Portland, Oregon. Ron Wagner, of R. Wagner Co., Portland, restored the stenciling of the pipes to their original ornate Victorian design, discovered beneath layers of gold paint during restoration.

The restoration involved replacing perishable parts which were not replaced in 1976, and giving the organ a general mechanical adjustment. Missing parts were fabricated and replaced. Some tonal changes were reversed, restoring the original character of the sound. The oboe stop, mysteriously missing for many years, was replaced by an authentic set from a defunct Hook & Hastings organ in Nova Scotia.

With proper maintenance, the organ should function for decades before needing another restoration. If you would like to assist in the upkeep of the organ or the continued restoration and maintenance of this lovely historic site, please become a member of The Old Church Society. Your gift is tax-deductible. Thank you for your interest and support.

Organ Stops

The stop list of the organ, identical to a specification number 11 in a 19th century Hook and Hastings catalog, is as follows:

Great Organ: Swell Organ:

16' Bourdon

8'Open Diapson

8' Open Diapson

8' Stopped Diapson

8' Melodia

8' Viola

8' Dulciana

4' Flauto Traverso

4' Octave

4' Violina

2 ' Twelfth

2' Flautino

2' Fifteenth

8' Bassoon

III rks. Mixture

8' Oboe

8' Trumpet

Tremolo

 

Great to Pedal

Pedal:

Swell to Pedal

16' Open Diapason

Swell to Great

16' Bourdon