We are delighted to share Whispers from Ancient Vessels, a new work by Damsel Elysium created last year as part of the Black Composers Open Call. This was a nationwide call to support British composers and music-creators from the African and Caribbean diaspora to create new works as part our third series celebrating Black histories, stories and sounds on the British Music Collection. Read more about the other work selected here.
Damsel Elysium is a visual and sound artist, composer and tree whisperer based in London. They craft improvisational compositions using double bass and violin, layering contrasting melodies, drones and textures. Damsel is very reactive to the environment and much of their improvised work revolves around allowing nature to speak and also finding new ways to create and consume sound in a performance setting. They also use photography, film, fine art, performance, movement and sculpture to unify their abstract ideas.
Taking the form of a musical conversation (along with written transcript and images) between Damsel and a dying copper beach tree named Laceasee, Damsel explains more about the work:
“Whispers from Ancient Vessels isn’t about using nature as an artistic prop. This piece aims to centre and reveal the voice directly from our wooden gnarly friends who are often put in as a backdrop, a frivolous beauty landscape. ‘Whispers from Ancient Vessels’ discards this idea; this a portrait and they are the protagonist. Granting expression to the overwhelmingly ignored.
I have many profound thoughts and conversations when in touch with a tree and I feel strongly about what trees have to tell us. Here, I “translate” these whisperings into a mesmeric textural piece using double bass and violin to share with you a musical conversation. The conversation touches on ego, grief, healing and wholeness – though this changes and morphs as the tree guides the discussion.”
Listen to Whispers from Ancient Vessels below