Newcastle based composer and sound artist James Maher has written music for advertisements, short films, sound installations, and collaborated with contemporary artists, poets, and bands. In 2014, he completed his music degree under the tutelage of Colin Spiers at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music and is studying for his Honours. Maher is resident composer and pianist for The Tone Camerata.
The Unloved & Unlovely EP. James Maher, 2015. Three track recording by ōp – an ambient/drone project by Maher. Includes: 1. Greening out under the house/ I saw Urthona dancing/ on a tar sealed basin; 2. Death of the Great Machine/ Late-Stage Capitalism/ Neo-liberalism; 3. Suburban Decay/ at night. From the composer: “Each work deals with my experience of suburbia and the surrounding areas in which I lived as an adolescent. Combined in the works is the mysticism I associated with that period in my life, imbued particularly with the poetry and engravings of William Blake, the Old Testament, John Milton, heavy metal and punk music, asceticism and hedonism”.
The Unloved & Unlovely (1). James Maher, 2015. Recording by ōp – an ambient/drone project by Maher for processed sine tone, electronic organ and electronics. Includes: 1. Greening out under the house/ I saw Urthona dancing/ on a tar sealed basin. From the composer: “This work pertains to a holy experience induced by self-destruction or excess. Urthona is one of the four ‘Zoas’ in William Blake’s mythology, and represents inspiration, and creativity. This composition also lends itself to electronic musical styles such as trip-hop and trance music and can be interpreted as related to Rudolf Otto’s description of the ‘Mysterium Tremendum’”.
The Unloved & Unlovely (2). James Maher, 2015. Recording by ōp – an ambient/drone project by Maher for two-ring modulated electronic flutes, piano and cello. Includes: 2. Death of the Great Machine/ Late-Stage Capitalism/ Neo-liberalism. From the composer: “This work is a programmatic vision…an apocalyptic vision of the decline of late-state capitalism and the associated industrial modes of production. This work utilises the ring-modulator – an effect used by various composers and sound-designers – which subverts the overtone series of the note. The material in this piece is constructed on various interval sets and the way in which it is developed bears a semblance to the starting up and short circuiting of a ‘machine’”.
The Unloved & Unlovely (3). James Maher, 2015. Recording by ōp – an ambient/drone project by Maher for electronic sounds, distortion, Tibetan singing bowls and sine tones. Includes: 3. Suburban Decay/ at night. From the composer: “This work is an exploration of a suburban nightscape in retrospect, and is thus exaggerated and hyperbolised. This work owes as much to composers such as Stockhausen and Varese as it does to post-punk bands such as the Birthday Party and Einstürzende Neubauten. This work is highly static, with each sound ascribed to a particular instrumental role like in a Gamelan or percussion ensemble”.
Satori & Fluxus. James Maher. Live recording of piano and violin duo featuring Miranda Arrighi and Callum Close.
Where We Disappear. James Maher. Full score and parts for string quartet. Premiered at Harold Lobb Concert Hall by the Newcastle Conservatorium String Quartet 2014. From the composer: “I drew influence from a number of sources; the first being a painting of the same name by the artist Guy Martin, which deals with the notion of transcendence that arises through a deep relationship between two human beings. The piece draws influence from the Carnatic tradition of Southern India”.