Written by Tom King www.artsreviewsedinburgh.com
'Light Water is Black Water' by Michael Begg and Black Glass Ensemble was at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh tonight and this is one show that I have been waiting for since it was re-scheduled from its original January performance schedule. Michael Begg is an electronic music composer whose work interests me in many different ways, and this work which is a partnership with Ocean ARTic and other partners including MASS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology, Scotland) to find new ways to get their climate change and environmental information message over to a new audience by using non-conventional methods, in this case music, was for me a perfect alignment of interests.
This review could so easily turn into an environmental message from me too, but there is no point in that as the arguments over whether climate change, speeded up by man’s intervention, is real or not is no longer the discussion point. The real discussion point now is how severe will this already happening climate change affect us all both environmentally and financially, and what are the limited tools at our disposal to at best slow this change down until we have better ways of dealing with this global crisis. Anyone who is still looking the other way on this issue is simply going to have to face the overwhelming evidence of large amounts of scientific data sooner rather than later. The data is out there for anyone to read, so this review is instead concentrating on the music and the event itself.
To separate scientific data from the music of 'Light Water is Black Water' is impossible as it is this very data which Michael Begg has used as his source material for his music and here, each of the main strands of data collected by Arctic climate scientists to measure the changes in ice, water, air pressure and other variables has been given a specific “voice” by Michael through his music, and this work is, in a way, this scientific data talking directly to us through the media of music. It was also interesting to hear from Michael himself why this work is titled 'Light Water is Black Water' and like so many other things in this world, it is a matter of perspective. If you are viewing the Arctic waters from a height above them then they look black, but if you are viewing those same waters from underneath them and coming up to the surface then they look white.
For this project Michael Begg has created a wonderful soundscape read the rest of the article here.