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Album review: David Lang, Death Speaks (Cantaloupe)


Just as his Little Match Girl Passion employed a palimpsest of Bach texts, so David Lang’s five-song suite Death Speaks derives directly from Schubert lieder, reconstituting proclamations in a manner which allows Death to talk directly to us in a variety of guises all sung in a fittingly pale, deathly timbre by Shara Worden over delicately dramatic settings of guitar, piano and violin produced by The National’s Bryce Dessner.

A strangely beautiful piece which manages to be both comforting and chilling, it’s accompanied here by Lang’s earlier death-themed “Depart”. The susurrus of wordless vocal tones bears comparison with Feldman’s “Rothko Chapel”, another site-specific installation of profoundly comforting, meditative texture.

Download: You Will Return; Pain Changes; I Am Walking; Depart