“Pray for the World, As We Are That World”

The track I made for the cassette release on Musicity is finally up to hear.

Culture Mile, who partnered on this project, describe the site I chose to record in:

“Opened to the public in 2017, the Charterhouse is both a thriving almshouse and a stunning seven- acre site embracing seven centuries of remarkable lives, lived and lost.”

Almshouse – charitable housing provided to people in a particular community.

I took the words from the site’s inbuilt chapel, there is a visitor book with all its fantastically different hand written entries, where visitors request attention in prayers to certain issues. I recorded sounds of myself touching and working the pages of the book to open the track with; the nice weight of the paper, and sculpted percussive sounds from recordings made using the dressing room of the priest, which was under the stairs. There were some tonally great, though symbolically heavy, silverware hidden in the drawers! I do love to delve.

The many voices in the book with their huge range of concerns were a huge pull for me, asking for prayers:

for orphans who know not the compassion of a parent

for the Catalan people

for animals

those without homes, the unloved and uncared for, the victims of the Grenfell Fire (which had not long occurred at the time), the lonely who seek their true way, “for my cousin in her 90s, preparing to die” all these . The words pull into sharp contrast what a giving, aware, yet privileged position the writers are all in, also. Even to a heathen like me, the spirit of community shines in a place where shared faith is identity today and historically.

So, to transmit the effects of the multiple voices speaking out from the pages of the visitor’s book, I recorded myself singing as low as I could and layered my voice alto (lower female range) and soprano (upper female scale range) on top, unedited. I really enjoy hearing my own tenor/contralto tones under my voice! Perversely, in an impish sense, probably, as having trained in an Indian music academy we were taught that women sing high notes only.

I also in the same vein, layered the vocals to come in and end at different times from each other. Unsync!! It’s too easy these days to ‘fix’ everything to robotic level of cleanliness, the command ‘quantize’ is not your friend! During my recording session a bunch of lawyers came into the chapel at Charterhouse to rehearse. I’ve been part of a 100-person choir from the age of around 13-18years old, practising and performing every week, even sang a solo at St Paul’s as a teen. Part of me felt it was a drag of course, a bind but the spirituality of music is such a pull, and there weren’t many other options to me back then.

Reviews:

Fari B’s beautiful, seemingly gentle invocation of The Charterhouse’s ancient structure, ‘The Visitor Book’, also palpably disconcerts and challenges, despite the site being one of the city’s most reviving and peaceful places. When Fari B asks for prayers for those lost in the Grenfell fire there is a clear attempt to fuse seven centuries of charitable actions to the here-and-now. I can imagine this will be quite overwhelming listening on site.” Richard Foster at Louder Than War.

“tracks like Fari B’s quality post-trip-hop calm “The Visitor Book” or Craig Richards’ soft electronica patterns in “Deep Slow” that make you want to Google more of their work (the hallmark of a good compilation).” Stuart Bruce at Chain D.L.K.

The tracks also made it onto playlists such as this one, on Random Jukebox at SourceFM.

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