Reviews for Susie Hodder-Williams & Chris Caldwell

This album is thematically inspired on the beautiful track in the now park of Dartmoor, where a route is known to have existed as the road between two ports when transferring from one ship to sail on another, now known as The Mariner's Way. It is half composed and half improvised music. The tracks evoke the silence, the emptiness, the loneliness, the breathing of the wind, the rhythmic edges of the elements of wind and water in a stretched landscape with granite rocks, and also traces of walks and stories. The music is often meditative often very descriptive. Mostly very quiet and slowly breathing, there are a few tunes with near-eastern flavour of improvisation, with a few subtle bowl droning or rubbing or tones in the background. On “Reindeer Moss” you can hear breathing with patterns of overtones on flute. “Beardown” with very long notes on low flutes recalling the large ships far away are combined with high notes, find a tune like within a lonely walk with a quicker step near the end. Just the last track with background voices sounds like an arrival, hearing people talking. A beautiful evocative album that can work like a movie, a silent landscape documentary with images with no further explanations needed.
Radio Centraal Antwerp Gerald Van Waes 02/12/2010

SUSIE HODDER-WILLIAMS & CHRIS CALDWELL - Mariner's Way (FMR 291; UK) Featuring Susie Hodder-Williams on flutes & gamelan and Chris Caldwell on baritone sax, bass clarinet & gamelan. Recorded at Kingston University in London in May & July of 2009. Susanna Hodder-Williams is a member of Quintessence, a chamber quintet with an earlier CD out on FMR, not the British folk/psych band of the early seventies. Chris Calder is a member of the Delta Sax Quartet who have that great disc on MoonJune where they cover Soft Machine songs. The Delta Sax Quartet also have a disc on FMR as well as a recently released DVD which we hope to get in soon. The music on this disc explores the mythical journey of the ancient mariner. Starting with the pure-toned, immensely suspense-filled flute of Ms. Hodder-Williams, our journey begins. Although this is a studio recording it sounds like it was recorded in large spacious room with a large amount of reverberation, silence between the notes. On "Shadows" the flute and soprano sax float around one another sublimely. The overall vibe reminds me of a lone lighthouse with its guiding light beaming through the distance in a deep fog. Besides the long breath-like notes of the flute & other reed, the only other sound we hear is the occasional clanging of some percussion or gamelan. On "Celestite" the percussion sounds like the ticking of a clock, while someone whistles slowly and softly in the haze. While listening to this disc, I felt as if I were entering a calm dream-world, sitting on a raft in the middle of the ocean, peaceful and adrift. This helped to ease me out of the usual daily stress that I have to deal with each and every day. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery DMG New York
Downtown Music Gallery, New York Bruce Lee Gallanter 21/11/2010

Na de fraaie CD van fluitist/saxofonist Theo Travis met Robert Fripp levert Groot-Brittannië nu een nieuwe proeve van ambient-achtige geblazen soundscape-muziek. Fluitiste (en gamelan-speelster trouwens) Susie Hodder-Williams en rietblazer Chris Caldwell (van het Delta Saxophone Quartet) maakten een prachtige verstilde CD “Mariner’s Way”, een klankverbeelding van de mythe van de zeeman die over de legendarische Mariner’s Way, dwars door Dartmoor, verdwaald raakt en zijn reis niet overleeft. De Mariner’s Way is geen echte route, en ook geen doorlopend pad, door het befaamde natuurgebied in het midden van Engeland – een tamelijk onherbergzame en vochtige streek, waar The Hound of the Baskervilles zich afspeelt, en waar talloze mythes en legenden een oorsprong vinden. Veeleer is The Mariner’s Way een aaneenschakeling van plaatselijke voetpaden, die aan elkaar geknoopt min of meer dwars door het veengebied leiden. Zie bijvoorbeeld deze website voor meer informatie. Hodder-Williams en Caldwell hebben een CD gemaakt met trage, minimale stukken die nergens behaagziek of al te gemakkelijk zijn, maar ook nergens ingewikkelder doen dan nodig is. Eenvoud, sober gebruik van middelen, ingetogen lyriek.
Wissel Dutch Radio 6 Aad van Nieuwkerk 20/09/2010

What could follow an oboe concerto from the UEA symphony orchestra? How about an evening of transcendent flute and clarinet (and saxophone) with the addition of the poetry of James Turner in the very inspiring setting of Gallery 36 in Denmark Road. Saturday night's concert was called 'Time and Distance' and it was a very unusual and moving experience. The Gallery is owned and run by Veronica Gosling whose previous gallery was in the Forest of Dean. Gallery 36 is a former nursing home where all the rooms are filled with art equipment and materials and many, many works of art. The art work extends into the garden where various sculptures are visible from Western Way. (Many people have wondered what white painted bicycles are doing in the trees!) Recently Veronica discovered a couple of musicians calling themselves 'Music on the Edge' playing in the Long Room at the Drewe Arms in Drewsteignton. Chris Caldwell is a clarinetist with a deep love of the saxophone. Susie Hodder-Williams is wonderful flautist. They both also play the Javanese gamelan. Veronica managed to convince them to come to Exeter to play at Gallery 36 with the additional element of the poetry and poetry reading of James Turner. After a lot of shuffling around as a large and expectant audience squeezed themselves into one room of the gallery. The concert opened with 'Timelessness for Bass Flute and Bass Clarinet'. Chris sat silently with his very large, old and beautiful bass clarinet to his lips, strangely reminiscent of a garden gnome with a giant tobacco pipe. However, it was Susie who made the first sounds, on her bass flute. The first sound was no more than a breath, slowly building into a recognisable note, before giving way to multiple harmonics. As the mood built, a series of squeaks and gasps started to proceed from Chris's clarinet. The entire piece was beautifully composed and played. But the plan was not simply to have an evening of modern compositions. Next came three baroque pieces by Bach - but played on the saxophone which wasn't invented until 100 years after he died. Chris explained that he thinks the saxophone is ideal for the music of Bach. And, after his playing, we had to agree. Then 'Minimal Time and Equal Distance' was represented by Philip Glass's 'Piece in the Shape of a Square', a minimalist work gently coaxing more and more life into a very simple musical phrase. This 25 minute piece was sadly cut down to only five minutes to allow time for more music and poetry. James' poems about time and distance were accompanied by Susie on the gamelan and Chris on his beloved saxophone - again reduced to the gentlest gasps and squeaks, accompanied by the tapping of the brass keys. Chris and Susie sent us to the interval with Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - and Chris called us back with improvisations on the c clarinet. James read us some poetry by Henry Reed and T S Eliot in the second half with accompaniment from various flutes, clarinets and saxophones. We also enjoyed more classical music: Sarabande from Bach's Partita No 2 - on saxophone of course, Elgar, Debussy and - Thelonius Monk. Chris's jazz playing was quite amazing, and when he and Susie finished with 6 Roumanian folk dances by Bartok, Chris treated us to an amazing and unpredictable jazz improvisation ending with exhausted wheezing through the reed. Just to bring us back to some semblance of reality they finished with Steve Goss's arrangement of the Welsh folk tale 'Hela'r Sgyfarnog' (Hunting the Hare). We were pleased to hear that it is possible that Steve will get together with Chris and Susie in the near future to form a trio to play at Dillington Hall. That's definitely something to look out for! Phonic FM Radio: 106.8 FM Exeter's Sound Alternative (Posted by Luch Càise-Dearg )
Phonic FM Luch Càise-Dearg 21/11/2010

...a crepuscular meditation, often on the threshold of silence...the flute whispers delicately over a distant throb of Tibetan bowls. It's not so far from the restrained mode of John Surman's recent ECM solos...These are dark, serious mood pieces that seem to linger among the unoccupied rural corners of England's myth-sodden terrain.
The Wire Rob Young 19/01/2011

The ghosts of ancient mariners walk in the mist-shrouded music on Mariner's Way. It is a tone poem about a path between sea ports with unearthly sounds: Susie Hodder-Williams plays flute, alto flute, bass flute and gamelan, while Chris Caldwell plays soprano and baritone sax, bass clarinet, singing bowl and gamelan. Judging by the title, I thought the music would be sea chanteys and the like. I was wrong. The title refers to an ancient pathway in Devon, traversing across Dartmoor, England. Sailors took this path to go from one sea port to another. The CD begins and ends with the sound of a fog horn, but what is in between is about the land between ports that had to be crossed by mariners. The haunting music -- titles include "Gigha Quartz," "Reindeer Moss," "Predawn," "Landfall" and "Kistvaens" -- evokes misty landscapes and long ago tales of men who braved the high seas. It is a mysterious sound that made me wish I could hike the ancient trail. I wanted to see the rocks and lie down in the reindeer moss. Music like this reaches places in the soul that cannot be accessed in any other way. Barbara Spring 01/12/2010

There is a rare magic in the way a small candlelit church holds their music and offers its loveliness to a listening audience. These evenings are a privilege.
Facebook Sam North 10/01/2020

Eclectic, intimate and beautifully understated”
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