Ahari Press (label)
12 April 2019 (released)
17 April 2019
At the heart of any great album there has to be great songs, that's a given. However, a mixer wields pretty significant power in shaping how those songs are perceived. In addition to simply adjusting volumes to feature one element over another, there are a plethora of tools at an engineer's disposal to influence how a song affects you. Equalization, compression, reverb, delay and all kinds of modulation. One mixer's vision can create something massively different than another's.
Classical music can fall victim to having a flat and lifeless mix. While modern pop mixers like to highlight specific elements (eg: a booming bassline, a catchy high frequency hook) by artificially inflating them and putting them front and centre, classical engineers tend to be restrained in that regard. Focussing instead on ensuring the balance of instrumentation is even above all else. Think of the difference between having a radio playing classical compared to modern rock or pop. Even the most rousing overture usually feels like background music while a simple pop ditty will sit front and centre in your mind.
With Fortune Has Turned (Remixed), composer Chris Lastovicka wanted to revitalize his pieces with a reimagining by someone with a more modern mindset. He sought out mixer Jeremy Allom, who helmed the mixing of his favourite album: Blue Lines by Massive Attack. The archetypal '90s trip-hop album contains 'Unfinished Sympathy', one of the most emotionally evocative tracks of that decade. A song who's swaying orchestral motifs are underpinned by driving, bass-heavy drums and percussion and led by an incredibly soulful vocal. The goal was to infuse his work with the same passion and immediacy. Fortune Has Turned is a tumultuous, passionate and deeply moving collection of symphonic compositions that navigate a flood of human experiences from strife and oppression, through moments of quiet personal revelation, finishing with triumph and emancipation.
We're immediately launched into darkness with the tyrannized saga 'The 7th Chapter of Job'. The dire pangs of strings bring to mind the theme of a malicious serialized period drama. They lurch and repeat personifying an interminable struggle. A lone female voice enters to vocalize the protagonist's plight. The sympathetic serenity soon turns to tortured wails as our main character endures his trials. A gentle violin refrain closes out the sad tale.
'Abraxas' continues to build on the epic nature of the previous piece while 'The Tender Ones' slight, heedful late-night piano and rich, overarching french horn blend to create a gorgeous delicate duet. 'Shanti' keeps the focus on the piano with indulgent layers of reverb casting the keys in a haunting light, while the horn acts as the voice of triumph among the elements of uncertainty. The single and the album's closing track, 'The End of Tyranny' concludes the album with a knowing and restrained joy. The galloping piano thrusts our hero out of his plight and on to the next adventure while a lone sombre violin looks back wistfully on the losses they've endured to get to where they are now.
Fortune Has Turned (Remixed) is an absolutely gorgeous story in five movements. There's grandeur, tenderness, elation and strife all bubbling at the surface. Not to diminish the nobility of such a record as a stand-alone piece but it could easily serve an incredibly compelling soundtrack. If Lastovicka's goal for recruiting mixer Jeremy Allom was to draw out the passion and immediacy in his work, he has succeeded in spades. Bravo.