Out of space and time: The Stone Tapestry

Listening to Jeff Herriott’s The Stone Tapestry is a slow-moving, immersive experience, reminiscent of the vast musical tectonics of John Luther Adams; the music shares the timeless quality of someone like Takemitsu, but possesses a textural language very much Herriott’s own. Scored for multiple percussion and flute, Herriott distils a range of textures from the ensemble; the fragility of the last section revels in brittle percussion, whilst the fifth combines flute with vibraphone.


Repetition is a key feature of the work, with patterns turning and weaving to create tension in textures that are at once moving and yet fixed. It’s a music that speaks of wide, open spaces, of mist-shrouded landscape, of the strange hours just before dawn or at twilight when the past seems very close to the surface.


This is a feature of other works by Herriott; ‘at the whim of the current’ for vibraphone and electronics, or ‘heat curls up from the dust.’ It’s a music that transcends ordinary time, lifting the listener into another plane where the pace of life moves in a more considered fashion, with a quiet grandeur.


Herriott describes the piece as ‘a collection of interwoven myths about origins, lifecycles and the significance of change as a whole.’ There’s a restlessness to the music sometimes, too, particularly the second section, ‘Between the Sun and the Shade’ with repeating bell-patterns endlessly revolving against a warping background and the odd, unnerving sound of wood being scraped. An eerie banshee ghosts in the background, shadowing the flute in ‘Luminous Stones.’


The fifth section, ‘Consciousness Floats Into The Wind,’  is one of those rare pieces that I instantly felt as though I’d known my whole life on first hearing, something unknown yet so immediately familiar. Performed fluidly and with a real sense of the music's sonorous soundscapes by Due East and Third Coast Percussion, The Stone Tapestry is released on the New Focus Recordings label; details here.

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