RETHINK FOREVER   vocal music of Peter Hannan

***This CD recently showed up at random in my post office box, and boy I'm sure glad it did! Canadian composer Peter Hannan joins forces with three venerated Vancouver vocal entities, slathers them with weird electronic effects, and, in the process, pops open a strikingly odd treasure chest of pure sonic pleasure. The title track floats into your hammers, stirrups and anvils on a 19-minute long barge full of joyful, melodic choral singing, courtesy of Musica Intima, perfectly meshed with synth drones, cut-up vocal shards, snappy drum samples and flying saucers lifting off. The text is composed of the 200 most common English words, phrases from a love advice web site and a Tallis song.

Clocking in at little more than half that length, "The City of Granada on the Surface of Mars" somehow achieves a similar effect without electronics, as Musica Intima's additional vocals supply the held tones and effects. The text on this one is inspired by Christopher Columbus' commentary on his first voyage to the new (to him) world combined with NASA info on the 1996 Mars Pathfinder mission. Arcane Candy

***Un très beau disque mélangeant musique électronique-électroacoustique et musique vocale. Quatre œuvres de Peter Hannan, sur des textes très humains, sur l’amour, la pauvreté, le bonheur. Des voix célestes (les ensembles Musica Intima et Vancouver Cantata Singers, plus Siri Olesen), un style riche mais bien centré, qui demeure accessible sans compromis nécessaire. Je suis impressionné et charmé... et incapable de dire laquelle des quatre œuvres me plaît le plus. Une deuxième écoute s’impose, donc. (Monsieur Délire ) Francois Couture

***Happiness, love and the inequities of life drive the creative juices of composer Peter Hannan in the four vocal works (two with tape) here. This is not your standard choral fare – featuring Musica Intima on two tracks, the Vancouver Cantata Singers on another, and soprano Siri Olesen on the last, “Rethink Forever” will challenge the listener to rethink the nature of contemporary choral music forever.

Hannan uses his formidable skills in vocal scoring and tape development to set his self-penned, witty yet at times very troubling, lyrics to music. Musically, he draws on diverse influences, from ethereal harmonies, to traditional African music to the beats of pop. His words are drawn from his experiences living in Africa to Christopher Columbus to the happy gal at the checkout counter. What amazes is his ability to develop and superimpose these ideas seamlessly. Whole Note


***In our many years listening to and reviewing music, we've never heard anything quite like this before. Canada's Peter Hannan combines two worlds that rarely collide: choral music and electronics. The a strangely bewildering and hypnotic experience not to be missed. ... Our guess is that most listeners won't know what to make of this. When you delve into arenas that have not yet been explored, there are bound to be some strange circumstances. We can't compare this to any other artists because the music stands squarely on its own. Interestingly different and strangely provocative...Babysue




Peter Hannan, Henry Kucharzyk, live electronics. Christine Duncan, vocals, Rick Sacks drums.  

'Peter Hannan’s cosmic tune about the evolution of memory and the birth of stars emerges from squelchy electronic beats and a lachrymose harmonic loop of Baroque provenance. Singer Christine Duncan completes the illusion of intimate thoughts filling a vast space. R. Everett Green Globe and Mail

‘... it’s a real gas to hear complex music like this programmed with real conviction and garnished with all manner of electronic exotica such as wind synths, theremins and a Buchla lightning. Keith Molin The Wire

‘This is experimental music in the best possible sense, with compositions that are made from previously unheard-of combinations of tones and textures. There’s an otherworldly quality to it as well, especially when the performers build slippery, pulsating banks of theremin-generated sine waves. But what distinguishes phh!k from other academic electronic acts is its earthiness...The disc is marvellous and the concert was too... the event was like stumbling into a small college theatre and discovering Bjork or Laurie Anderson in full flight: phh!k’s that challenging, accomplished, and funny.’ Alexander Varty Georgia Straight Vancouver

‘I sorta hated Songs the first few times I listened to it, but it grew on me after a while. The trick is to imagine them as goofy nerds having fun and not take it too seriously. Phh!k have what some might call a populist approach to experimental music, drawing from jazz and pop and borrowing certain elements from DJ culture. The disparate influences mesh better than you’d think...’ Benjamin Bole Now Magazine Toronto

‘Composers Peter Hannan (Vancouver) and Henry Kucharzyk (Toronto) play an array of wibbly, wobbly and funky electronic devices and write music that fuses the classically based art song with IDM...The sonic textures are consistently inventive (even more so on the bonus quadraphonic DVD)... wonderfully original music...’ Eye Magazine Toronto



 Peter Hannan and Henry Kucharzyk live electronics

‘Phh!k gathers the essence of all electronic music, from mid-20th century first attempts (like the theremin) to the German school, electro-acoustics, and experimental turn-of-the-century techniques. It could be described as an amazing synthesis of synthesized music. Not that Phh!k was intended as a historical project of some sort, nor that it actually sounds like one. Simply, Peter Hannan and Henry Kucharzyk have integrated in their playing many influences, currents, and techniques both old and new. Their music has the soothing appeal of vintage Klaus Schultze, the cutting edge of abstract experimentation, and the ever-disconcerting weirdness of motion-triggered electronic instruments like the theremin and the lightning. Both instruments are heavily featured on "Dexter Sinister," the most difficult piece on this CD. A few tracks use the human voice as part of the material: speech sampled and arranged as melody in "Weather," as rhythmic patterns in "Hiro," as Inuit throat singing in "Venus Ascending." A series of six "Intersection" pieces are scattered throughout the album, providing short moments of electronic/ noise crossbreeding. The music on Phh!k has a very organic feeling, and a sense of immediacy rarely found in electronic music, thanks to the fact that it was performed live in the studio. Overall, this album stands out as a discovery for fans of electronic or experimental music and a strong achievement for Hannan and Kucharzyk.’ Francois Couture All Music Guide

'Ever since Progressive Rock was coined as a term by critics this section of music has seen no boundaries and has come to encapsulate various genres and styles. The album in question here is one of those particular albums that one would have difficulty in categorizing. The amount of experimentation involved as well as the heavy use of a battery of instruments both digital and analog gives this release that progressive slant. 

On the whole this is not an album for those who are looking for something that is easy listening and melodious. Not that it is devoid of melody but one has to really sit down and listen to the album paying attention to detail to appreciate it. 

I recommend this album to those who like listening to the Experimental Prog groups especially those of the electronic kind such as Tangerine Dream, Can, Faust as well as those who appreciate the works of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. This album is an interesting insight into avant-garde music with examples of musique concrete and pattern music appearing throughout. This is one of those albums that grows on you!' Dutch progressive rock page


Peter Hannan recorder and electronics

Available from The Canadian Music Centre

'Peter Hannan's solo recorder disc for the fledgling SRI label spans works by several composers of international repute, including a virtuoso show-piece by Luciano Berio, much in the manner of his Sequenze series; a small etude by Louis Andriessen for one player manipulating two instruments; a chaste Eastem-flavoured solo by Somei Satoh; and a pair of rather disappointing studies for recorder and electronics by Christopher Fox.

But the most vigorous work comes from Hannan himself, whose compositions strike a fascinating balance between cultural amnesia and total recall. RSRCH 4/83 is music from all over, bearing the marks of primitive vocalism, Buddhist chant, and the perfect consonances of medieval music. The piece unites tenor recorder and electronics in a mesmerizing ballet of drones whose timbres twist and harden as they drive toward the purest of cadences. A medieval shadow also falls over the title piece, which stamps a wild jungle dance from the pristine confines of a perfect fourth. It's as relentless as Bolero, and a lot more fun.' Globe and Mail Toronto

'Peter Hannan zeigt sich mit seiner CD als erstklassiger Blockflötist und vielfiltiger Komponist. Hier wird deutlich, wie abwechslungsreich und spannend moderne Blockflötenmusik sein kann. Sie regt an, beruhigt, macht nervös oder nachdenklich. Die hervorragende Kiangqualität tragt das ihre zum äusserst positiven Gesamteindruck der CD bei. Ein Kauf, der sich lohnt.' Franz Müller-Busch Dolce ed acerbo