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The Art of Disappearing

by Cameron Lam

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about

"The Moon that broke on the fence post will not hold,
Desire will not hold, memory will not hold"

The Art of Disappearing is a song cycle meditating on the nature of grief. Slowly transforming from stasis - where is everything is arresting and alien - grief doesn't leave. It becomes an important and empathetic part of us, as we learn to move again.

The fifth portrait album from Sydney composer, Cameron Lam, weaves together the timbre and expressive depth of mezzo soprano Jenny Duck-Chong (Halcyon) and the vibrant connection of the Geist String Quartet to paint a delicate response to the rhythmic and intensely musical poetry of Sarah Holland-Batt's first book, Aria.

credits

released May 28, 2019

Composer: Cameron Lam
Poet: Sarah Holland-Batt

Mezzo soprano: Jenny Duck-Chong (Halcyon)
Geist String Quartet:
Violin I - Sonia Wilson
Violin II - Mia Stanton
Viola - Hayasa Tanaka
Violoncello - James Larsen

Audio Engineer and Producer: Jayson McBride
Executive Producer: Cameron Lam
Record Label: Kammerklang
Cover Art: Luke Moseley


Video Credits:
An Alt. Drift Production
In Association with Kammerklang

"The Echo"
Louisa Poletti - Director/Choreographer/Editor

"The Crusader"
Tommaso Quartani - Choreographer/Artist

Peter Matkaicsek - Cinematographer/Assistant Editor

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all rights reserved

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about

Cameron Lam Sydney, Australia

Composer, gamer, amateur trapeze artist and Artistic Director of Kammerklang.

My music mixes my love of fantasy and nostalgic video game chip tunes, with my obsession for movement and my classical music training.

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Track Name: Jenny Duck-Chong, James Larsen - The Art of Disappearing I
The moon that broke on the fencepost will not hold.
Desire will not hold. Memory will not hold.
The house you grew up in; its eaves; its attic will not hold.
The still lives and the Botticellis will not hold.
The white peaches in the bowl will not hold.
Something is always about to happen.
You get married, you change your name,
and the sun you wore like a scarf on your wrist has vanished.
It is an art, this ever more escaping grasp of things;
imperatives will not still it - no stay or wait or keep
to seize the disappeared and hold it clear, like pain.
So tell the car idling in the street to go on;
tell the skirmish of chesspieces to go on;
tell the scraps of paper, the line to go on.
It is winter: that means the blossoms are gone,
that means the days are getting shorter.
And the dark water flows endlessly on.
Track Name: Jenny Duck-Chong, Geist String Quartet - Tracery
If, in this life, I could see them again,
I would trace a fingertip
around their light-holding mouths:
the painted mason jar that sat, squat,
in ascending height,
on a ledge in my grandmother's house

Necks glazed with birds-of-paradise,
they choked on paw-paw spears,
prunes, shields of pear, and nectarines
with their claws curled in,
while the muscat grapes
wizened away in a Wedgewood cup.

The first Wednesday of December
her backyard mangoes boiled
to chutney like clockwork. It sputtered
and set in infantry rows of jam-pots
for the widows on Ladies' Day,
each lid fringed with a tartan skirt -

Of all the things I miss on earth,
what I miss the most is the perfume
of that windowsill -
jar by jar cooling under a tropic moon,
those five mouths
fragrant with the death of fruit.
Track Name: Jenny Duck-Chong, Geist String Quartet - Meditation on the Plums I
The dark hours drop off, one by one.
Then in the morning, these plums.

How can we fail to love them, purple-black,
arranged like cowed children's heads,
slunk home, returned to us?

Now they rest like the dead
and their skins are blue, and cold to touch -

You brought them here, each hand a polished loss.
They lay heavy as memory on the cloth.
Track Name: Jenny Duck-Chong, Geist String Quartet - Elegie
This is the room. These are the ruins that ruined us.
This is the sheet music, these are the books,
and last century's cups painted with roses.
Tell me, was it here the future lapsed, became an unusable gift?
And after, did we love it still, as we always did?
Tell me before the sun breaks,
before the lovers lose their faces.
Sing the old hymn again, the hallelujah.
Track Name: Jenny Duck-Chong, Geist String Quartet - Athenian Jar
Night strangles the island,
yet we play on and on. Absence thickens
my throat. In its hollow your spear
clicks on marble, moonlit
rats scatter like obols, and a ring
of mesh gleams at your neck.
The house rocks its tusks in silence
as our hands fall and fall. Funeral games -
now all we fought for is dead.
Throw the dice again,
feel the years tumble
from your fingertips
like bones.
Track Name: Jenny Duck-Chong, Geist String Quartet - Enduring Ritual
How could he bear that golden weight?
How could he wander the small villages singing,
leading the slow consoling eyes of the goats
and the slumberous herdsmen to the place
where nothing enters or falls, and even the simplest
beauty endures? How could he go out crying
"my love is dead" in a world where surely everything
was her, and her? In the end, Orpheus did not sing
for love. He sang for the instant he forgot
who he was and had been, for those few notes
shining shapelessly above the strings.
Track Name: Jenny Duck-Chong, Geist String Quartet - Meditation on the Plums II
She is thinking of the tart, thumb-sized plums
they ate together, and of one in particular.
Unremarkable, except it was the last he gave her.
Of what it was, to stand in the small stone
kitchen, tasting the bittersweet strings
of fruit clinging to the wood. The intimacy
in those ruins. Saying plum and not yet
meaning heartache. Letting the ordinary become the last.
Track Name: Jenny Duck-Chong, Geist String Quartet - The Art of Disappearing II
The moon that broke on the fencepost will not hold.
Desire will not hold. Memory will not hold.
The house you grew up in; its eaves; its attic will not hold.
The still lives and the Botticellis will not hold.
The white peaches in the bowl will not hold.
Something is always about to happen.
You get married, you change your name,
and the sun you wore like a scarf on your wrist has vanished.
It is an art, this ever more escaping grasp of things;
imperatives will not still it - no stay or wait or keep
to seize the disappeared and hold it clear, like pain.
So tell the car idling in the street to go on;
tell the skirmish of chesspieces to go on;
tell the scraps of paper, the line to go on.
It is winter: that means the blossoms are gone,
that means the days are getting shorter.
And the dark water flows endlessly on.

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