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While cleaners worked over several months, harpist Áine O’Dwyer was granted access to the pipe organ in St Mark’s Church, Islington . The results of those improvised sessions are documented here in a greatly expanded vinyl edition of the cassette originally released by Fort Evil Fruit in 2012.
Music for Church Cleaners is breathtakingly massive, yet utterly personal. As O’Dwyer conjures roaring drones from her gargantuan instrument, haunting melodies expand and evolve into glorious meditations on church-life outside the public eye. Despite perfect sound quality, these tracks bare the immediacy of field recordings with conversations between the church cleaners, requests from them to not hold notes for so long and the sounds of their work intertwined with the robotic shuffle of the organ’s mechanisms. It’s the sound of an instrument happy to step outside its firmly established framework into an open space where it can breathe freely for the first time in its existence.
Though completely secular, Áine O’Dwyer has produced music for those of us who grew up in the church, who still yearn for its comfort and safety without the judgmental attitudes and forced self-deprecation. Sit back and relax – you won’t have to stand or kneel here.
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