Croatian composer, performer, visual artist, and designer Miranda Vukasovic is premiering her latest album on Show4me today! Listen to the album exclusively here.
Miranda’s experimental project Miranda Vukasovic + THE RADIANCE started in 2015 in Beijing. It embraces the cultural spaces of both Miranda’s background and Beijing. The artist has released two albums within The Radiance, including her 2019 album that combined Miranda’s talents in music and design – it was an audio-visual installation that recreated space through site-specific audio vibrations.
The project’s new album – THE TEMPLE – is now available on Show4me. It combines Miranda’s dramatic, operaesque, yet nuanced voice with the refined string instrument melodies, masterfully contrasted by a few timely touches of dynamic modern electronic rhythms and rap.
The album’s closing song Forever It’s Just Too Long makes the pinnacle of the piece with its haunting spacious sound and powerful vocals that, combined together, seem to be as fitting as the next Bond soundtrack as No Time To Die.
Listening through the album, we’ve felt like it should be performed or played in large, empty spaces. And with The Temple having been recorded and filmed in a 300-year-old temple on Shatan North Street in Beijing that impression makes total sense.
While the album fuses European and Chinese musical trends, the clear Eastern influences in The Temple are mostly heard throughout one song on the record – Gold Shaded Moon. The song features references to the classic motifs created with strings, piano, and percussion.
The curious mix of trends and styles from different parts of the world makes for an impressive and atmospheric effort from Miranda Vukasovic + THE RADIANCE. The record’s weakest point must be the lyrics. Sparse as they are, one cannot escape the sense of repetitiveness in most of the tracks.
Listen to the album exclusively here.
Learn more about the album from our interview with the talented Croatian artist! We talked to Miranda about her new album, so here’s the take on the work from the artist herself.
Miranda, congrats on releasing your third album with The Radiance. How did you come up with the idea for your album?
I want to clarify – The Radiance is actually me, connecting with always different and new artists and musicians. I believe a certain power is born from a mixture of cultures, which create THE RADIANCE.
As for this album, this is actually my third album conceived in China. For the past 8 years, I have been working and living in Beijing and believed that Beijing’s independent music scene was quite special. I started to learn more about it and also about traditional Chinese instruments that had always been a part of Chinese culture. Some of them really amazed me, their sound; I started to be passionate about the idea to put those instruments out of their context, like traditional Chinese Opera or some other forms of music that these instruments are meant for and I tried to incorporate them in my own [music].
It was actually a big surprise of how many people came along!
Then I fell in love with this historical Qing Dynasty Temple in a hidden courtyard close to The Forbidden City. I was thinking it was a great way to describe through the musical journey the story of what great experience this was, the possibility to unify a great mix of people and the possibility to unify arts from different cultures through music.
What The Temple is about?
It is a transcendent EP that blurs the line between modern classical and electronic music, it is also a standalone visual art installation as well, born out the temple it was recorded and filmed in.
Our talented group of 30 global musicians (including strings, choir, Mongolian throat singers and traditional Chinese instruments) has been recording in the temple environment to capture its acoustic details and mixed with modern synthesis and sampling techniques to create a sonic hybrid.
Was it hard to find 30 artists to collab with? How many refused?
It was relatively easy, the music community in Beijing is quite incredible in that sense. All the musicians support the projects that are new and experimental! Many loved the idea to play in that amazing environment of a 300-year-old temple.
Some of the people involved in the production included Grammy award-winning producer Jeff Bova (who worked with Celine Dion), as well as Ned Douglas (who worked with Stevie Nicks and Mick Jagger).
It was actually a big surprise of how many people came along!
When you can collaborate with people who are really responsive and creative, you can look at your own ideas from a different perspective.
Some pretty amazing people joined the project: production assistant Eric Lattanzio, orchestration Vivien Villani, vocalists Mariana Savchenko, Jess Meider, Hans Niethammer, Nancy Jenkinson Brown, JC Maillard, Joy Stuhr, Xibo, Tonglege, Sue, Mel Lovricevic, throat singer TengGeEr, Mongolian percussion/throat singer Tonglege, water drums and percussion arrangements Yunluo Ross, cellists Joy Stuhr, Ana Gjud, violinists Maya Viola Oppitz, Ekaterina Badalyan, Sofia Baliashvili, Ana Marija Šir, Ana Dražinić, Vlasta Crnogorac, double bass Siwei Xiao, yangqin Ru Yuan Feng, guzheng Chang Jing, horsehead fiddle Xibo, flute Jovana Bogojevic, trombone Daniel Rothwell, rap/hip-hop Nadirah X, photographer Eric Favreliere, costume designer Kathrin von Rechenberg.
How long did it take you to write, record and produce The Temple?
Some songs took a day – the melody and idea, – but arrangements and all the preparation, demos, orchestration, getting everyone together for the project and just the logistics of it was so ambitious it actually took a full year. We recorded 7 songs in 3 days by basically camping at the temple from 9 AM to 8 or even 10 PM sometimes. So now we are finally happy to introduce it!
Why did you decide to do a collaboration? How do you feel it enriched the sound and the experience of your listeners?
First of all, I think collaboration is always a great experience and a chance to learn from others, grow with others and share this great moment with a group of talents.
When you can collaborate with people who are really responsive and creative, you can look at your own ideas from a different perspective. The sound becomes rich and textured, not only because of the musician but also because of the space [where it was produced and recorded].
We will also be releasing a short movie in collaboration with an underwater artist and cinematographer Julie Gautier.
With The Temple, we tried to really give the record the sound of a temple. The essence of an ancient temple space became an integral part of the recording; a snapshot of one piece of Beijing and the moment it occupies in time. Also, the mixture of the traditional instruments from the East combined with the West gives additional texture to the sound.
How do you envision your audience will listen to your tracks?
Apart from the traditional album we are releasing, there is also a standalone visual art installation born out of the temple it was recorded and filmed in. It deals with the theme of awareness; our capacity to feel and re-structure, re-frame, re-integrate and re-orient ourselves to “the center”, The Temple.
The audio-visual installation is created from sonic moments collected from the environment of the 300-year-old temple and the world-class musicians who played there. These elements are looped and combined and then played back on up to twelve speakers. The result is a constantly evolving tapestry of sound that recreates the spirit of the space it was recorded in.
The sonics will be accompanied by visual geometry suspended in time and space: projections that contemplate the evolution of the color spectrum and the shape of the fractal-like landscapes, all driven by the evolving frequencies of the ethereal music piece. Each element of audio will have a corresponding visual element, together making a perfectly aligned and immersive experience.
Where will the installation be displayed?
At the Shatan North Street Temple, as well as other locations – we are currently negotiating with museums and galleries across the globe.
Do you plan a tour or shows to support your release?
Sure, that’s what we aim for, we are trying to get support for that! We want to create a small series of events and performances supporting the release. We will also be releasing a short movie in collaboration with an amazing woman, underwater artist and cinematographer Julie Gautier. You can see it on YouTube on March 8.
What did you learn from your experience making this album and what would you change if you were doing it all over again?
First of all, I’ve learned that the dream, and the music, and the courage of thinking about this project and finally made me travel and meet the most unexpected and unique people. I feel grateful for that experience. I’ve made new friends and many people who are my idols are now part of The Temple story.
Strive to convey the feeling of that moment [of when you are creating your record] through your notes, voice, and performance.
Of course, there is always something we could change or do better but I think it’s important to have a deadline or an end to it, so you can take all the knowledge you learn from that project into the next one! Because the learning is happening in the process of making things and, unfortunately, sometimes there’s no time to implement what you’ve learned into the piece you might be working on at the moment. But, as I said, that certainly creates an amazing set of tools to bring into the next project!
So all I learned with this project will go into the next and it will give me new skills to be better. So actually, The Temple is a really honest project and we gave it the best of what we had.
What would you advise other artists currently working on their EPs? How to improve the process and/or the result?
I think it’s research, definitely. For me, it helps a lot working live with musicians in the room, hearing them play, trying out different sounds and line melodies with them. And also I think it’s super important to go home and listen to the recording again and come back to maybe implement some fresh ideas.
And, finally, strive to convey the feeling of that moment [of when you are creating your record] through your notes, voice, and performance.
Another important aspect of creating an album or EP is finding stories in everyday life.
Listen to THE TEMPLE here
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