celestial harmonies 13085-2
With the release of his collaborative CD Fata Morgana (13110) percussionist Michael Askill began to make a name for himself outside his native Australia. This previous release, with Turkish instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek, presented Askill's considerable skills as percussionist and improviser; now, with Australian Percussion, he displays his close ties with many of Australia's most respected composers. Nigel Westlake and Martin Wesley-Smith, for example, each contribute colorful, accessible scores for multiple percussion instruments from around the world; Wesley-Smith's White Knight and Beaver, inspired by Lewis Carroll, also incorporates effective, atmospheric touches of electronic music.
The dean of Australian composers, Peter Sculthorpe, has also contributed a piece to Michael Askill's one–man–band recording. Again using studio multi–track techniques, Askill performs How the Stars Were Made, an evocative depiction of an Aboriginal creation myth, using mallet instruments and percussion from around the world. Ross Edwards, another of Australia's more established composers, wrote his Marimba Dances specifically for Michael Askill. This buoyant solo piece is based on a traditional song from Madagascar—making it just one of several pieces on this recording to draw on the rich percussion traditions of Africa, Asia, and the Near East.
In addition to being the recipient of numerous dedications from other composers, Michael Askill is a composer himself. His Lemurian Dances is perhaps the most exotically scored piece on the album, employing thirty–four different percussion instruments from the traditions of China, the Philippines, the Andes, Aboriginal Australia, and Western classical and rock music. Like the United States, Australia is a culturally diverse country–a melting pot. And like the U.S., it is home to a thriving music scene that draws strength from that diversity. Australian Percussion is a delightful and intriguing introduction to the vibrant sounds and colors of Australian music.
Michael Askill is considered by many to be Australia's finest percussionist. Equally skilled at mallet instruments (vibes, marimba, etc.) and hand percussion from around the world, he has inspired dozens of composers to create works especially for him. In his solo career and in his long–standing percussion quartet, he seeks to create a music that crosses cultural boundaries. He can frequently be found accompanying some of Australia's finest contemporary composers and performing throughout the Pacific Rim.
notes courtesy of Celestial Harmonies