Those Who Walk Away – “Infected Mass, The” – [Constellation]
The Infected Mass is the first release from Matthew Patton’s project Those Who Walk Away. Patton is a composer from Winnipeg, whose previous works include the score for the 1988 dance performance Speaking in Tongues. This new work deals with the grief surrounding the death of Patton’s brother, who was killed in a plane crash. The pieces feature string and choral arrangements performed by players from Winnipeg and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, who are credited as the “ghost strings” and “ghost chorus.” The strings are slowly bowed, creating reflective harmonies (T2, T4, T6), while distant voices echo in a mournful chorus (T1 and T7). Filling in the empty spaces, there is a quiet roar, like an icy wind, made from the sounds of circulating blood. And then, jarringly, we are presented with the black box recordings recovered from two fatal plane crashes (T3 and T5). “The recordings are very disturbing,” Patton says, “as we listen to these cockpit voice recordings, real people are about to die. I don’t know why I am doing something that feels so wrong. But I am.” Maybe it’s also wrong to drop art that is so personal and so harrowing into the middle of a dumb radio show, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.