The Dialogues: Lee Fraser

by 5:4

i’m really happy to be able to present the next instalment in my series The Dialogues. This time i’m in conversation with UK composer Lee Fraser, whose music has been consistently blowing my mind for the last few years. The first album of his music, Dark Camber, was my best album of 2014, and his latest, Cor Unvers, released earlier this year, is just as impressive. Despite this, Fraser currently remains a relatively unknown figure, and my hope is that our Dialogue will go some way to shed more light on his music – which, both in terms of how it’s created and what it does, is seriously unlike the majority of electronic music regularly heard in most concert halls – and increase appreciation and understanding of his work. At time of writing, Fraser’s output is relatively small (a mere 10 compositions), but the imagination and power of these pieces reinforce my long-standing belief that it’s the composers who compose comparatively little – as opposed to churning out vast quantities on an endless production line – who invariably create by far the most compelling and potent music.

We got together at his home at the start of October, and i want to thank both Lee and his partner Caterina for their hospitality, and for allowing so much time for our discussion. i’m especially grateful to Lee for being prepared to talk at such length about his work; i hitherto knew almost nothing about his approach to composition, and it was fascinating to learn so much more about his musical outlook and methods. And if this Dialogue whets your appetite, his activities can be followed on his website, and to obtain one of the few remaining copies of each of his albums, Dark Camber is available via Bandcamp while Cor Unvers can be had from Discogs (best if you’re within the UK/Europe) and Ge-stell or Careful Catalog (outside Europe).

As usual, i’ve inserted numerous excerpts throughout our conversation to elucidate some of the points being discussed; a full list of these can be found below, together with the time in the audio when they occur. The Dialogue can be downloaded from the link below or streamed via Mixcloud.

List of excerpts:

  • 00:00:05 Thews and Limbs (I) (from Dark Camber)
  • 00:12:17 Instantia Crucis (from Cor Unvers)
  • 00:19:11 Narrows (from Dark Camber)
  • 00:26:18 Thews and Limbs (I)
  • 00:33:55 The Visions of Ezekiel (from Dark Camber)
  • 00:42:20 Ply (from Cor Unvers)
  • 00:53:08 Ply
  • 01:01:26 Thews and Limbs (III) (from Dark Camber)
  • 01:10:04 The Visions of Ezekiel
  • 01:19:41 Aerial Vapours (from Dark Camber)
  • 01:27:09 Aerial Vapours
  • 01:32:06 Stheno (unavailable)
  • 01:39:04 Instantia Crucis
  • 01:47:25 Reliq Ens (from Cor Unvers)
  • 01:54:04 Stheno
  • 02:02:50 Live at Sentralen, Oslo, 29 August 2018 (unavailable)
  • 02:09:20 Thews and Limbs (II) (from Dark Camber)
  • 02:17:44 Pline Expol A (from Cor Unvers)

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[…] more ostensibly spontaneous context of a live performance. So when Fraser and i sat down to record our Dialogue together in late 2018, we explored this question. Fraser explained that he effectively worked in a […]

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