Alastair White releases an album drawn from the ‘fashion-opera’ ‘Robe’, via Métier Records.
Recorded at Goldsmiths Music Studios, in January 2020, the record features the original cast from the premiere performance of the sci-fi “fashion-opera”, which took place as part of Tête-à-Tête, in London in 2019.
‘Robe’ is a one hour opera about cities, virtual reality and artificial intelligence that combines fashion, contemporary dance, experimental theatre, design, poetry and virtuosic music, its intention to “create multi-layered worlds within worlds”.
Scored for piano, flute and four singers, it tells the story of an A.I., called Edinburgh, that wants to become a living city. Described as “part elegy for a vanished past, part manifesto pointing the way into a heady, transhuman future”, ‘Robe’ was shortlisted for a Creative Edinburgh Award.
“Music is an ancient, powerful technology,” says the composer-librettist.
“In ‘Robe’ we’re trying to explore the idea that virtual reality has existed since the dawn of time: in the way that books, theatres – even the clothes we wear – transform and augment our perception of the world. And, how music has this astonishing power to contain and combine its participants – audiences, performers, writers – into a type of artificial superintelligence”.
It is one of a series of four “fashion-operas” from the former member of White Heath, the series also consisting of ‘Wear’, ‘Woad’, and ‘Rune’. White has also been shortlisted for a Scottish Award for New Music twice (in 2019 and 2020) and a Creative Edinburgh Award (2019), and created work for the Opera in the City festival, the poetry festival STanza, UKNA City Takeover, The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance and The Scottish Poetry Library.
Previously White led Edinburgh-based act White Heath, who were active in the city around 10 years ago and who released a string of tracks including ‘Take No Thought for Tomorrow’ on Stow College’s Electric Honey’ labelm, and culminating in their farewell single ‘The Only Fear is of Getting Caught‘.
However, the band relocate to London and continued to make music, putting out an EP ‘Out of Angels’, and a free download single ‘Abaissé‘ as recently as 2017.
White has also released music for a string quartet for the Altius Quartet’s album ‘Quadrants Vol. 3’ (Navona Records); the documentary opera ‘A Boat in an Endless Blue Sea’; and ‘Work: movement through a series of arbitrary partitions’ for .abeceda ensemble, and ‘If There Is Hope…’ with Blank Comrade.
‘Robe’ is available now on CD and Hi-Res digital download via Divine Arts Records.