Album review: Gothic by Andrée Greenwell

"An excellent introduction to the multifaceted nature of Australian vocal music"



By Andrée Greenwell
Featuring Greenwell and various performers
Album funded by the Australian Council for the Arts


The cover of Greenwell’s newest release: graphic design by Katerina Stratos, photo by James Manché

With a title as simple and evocative as Gothic, I wasn’t sure what to expect of composer Andrée Greenwell’s latest album. But it presents an eclectic pastiche of vocal chamber works that recall dark aesthetics of renaissance and medieval vocal traditions in surprising and innovative ways. I always appreciate music that connects with a variety of audiences, and Gothic is an excellent introduction to the multifaceted nature of Australian vocal music.

This album was an interesting listen and admittedly took a few plays to appreciate. The value of Gothic lies in Greenwell’s lush arrangements and interesting approaches to incorporating field recordings and sound effects within each track. Details such as the sound of rain or cracks of lightning or rumbling thunder encourage the listener to recall the eerie aesthetics of Gothic nature in literature. This was particularly effective in Greenwell’s cover of Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush’s iconic ode to Gothic literature.

Captured by Matthew Duchesne, Milk and Honey

Gothic displays the quality and diversity inherent to Australian works. This album’s strengths lie in the diverse nature of each track, which serves to encourage listeners to hear the breadth of possibility and influences within contemporary vocal music.

This album challenges how we hear classical and contemporary works by placing them alongside one another, encouraging listeners to hear their macabre similarities and question their assumptions about new Australian vocal music.

The recordings of Gothic were supported by a project fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts, involving leading Sydney string players Ewan Foster, Stephanie Zarka, Luke Spicer and Geoff Gartner, with electric guitarist David Trumpmanis, and Greenwell and soprano Julia County on vocals. Buy the album online.

Featured image credit Michael French.

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