Stills 01 EP Release

The ‘Stills’ project asked composers to create a piece of music in response to a self-selected work of art exhibited in London’s Tate Britain Gallery, presenting each of them with a premise; if each respective artwork represented a still from a scene, what would the score sound like?

Responding to the work of three British artists, with paintings which traverse high classicism, haunting surrealism and architectural abstraction - Paul Nash (Totes Meer / Dead Sea, 1940-1), Mary Martin (Inversions, 1966) & Arthur Hacker (Annunciation, 1892) - composers Jim Stewart, Simon Whiteside and Joe Wilkinson have produced a rich, inventive, and affecting collection of interpretations, unlocking singular new dimensions within these artworks.

The Jim Stewart composition, ‘Dead Sea’, takes the same name as Nash's painting. Jim’s recordings have been digitally extended and processed, creating a sustained, unsettling fabric of sound; an expansive backdrop to a simple piano progression and remotely staged horns, reflecting the fallen grandeur of Nash’s painting.

Totes Meer (Dead Sea), 1940 – 1. Paul Nash © Tate

Composer Simon Whiteside chose ‘Inversions’ by Mary Martin a huge sequential artwork comprising of 96 aluminium panels which reflect the viewer and surrounding gallery. An abstract piece which aims to make the viewer consider the space in which they view the work. Whiteside's correlating track ‘Inversions’ creates a canvas for a wide range of elements, using an ensemble of ten violins which cycle through clusters of canonically arranged notes. The other sections of the orchestra undulate in volume and rhythm, creating a hypnotic, meditative mood analogous to Martin’s sequential style.

Last but not least, Joe Wilkinson's interpretation of Hacker's ‘Annunciation’, takes a more linear approach, directly interpreting the events of the painting, with Hacker depicting Archangel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary, prophesying Jesus’ incarnation. A choir is combined with noise loops, synths and orchestral verve to create a multi-faceted piece that brings the release to a quiet, contemplative resolution.

The Annunciation, 1892. Arthur Hacker. Photo © Tate

See the full LBB interview about the ins and outs of the project here, with Joe Wilkinson, Mike Bamford and Will Cohen. You can stream the full EP on Spotify below.