Laurence Crane by Tim Parkinson (Counterpoints, June/July 1999)
Laurence Crane?s miniatures present a return to figuration after abstraction, a return to clarity after excess, and a return to singularity after multiplicity.
The material chosen is familiar; mostly consonant, often tonal, triads, elementary chords, old well-used intervals rescued from a previous unjust ignorant redundancy.
The familiar sound or image is abstracted by being placed in a new clean and often isolated context, like a museum glass case. Its innate value is respected by it remaining alone, unornamented and unaffected during the course of the piece by any development or transformation, the image staying as and where it is by being gently reiterated or prolonged so that it holds our full attention. The clear structure is held in functions so that we can observe the original material only from one or two other angles. Consequently any tonality inferred is abstracted and becomes non-functional and non-subservient to any dialectic.
His pieces sit in varying degrees between two poles:
On one hand there are the outwardly humorous pieces, such as the set of songs entitled Weirdi, using material that mocks itself and its genre, for example in the over-reiteration of a seemingly banal gesture in the prelude. This combined with the texts of the songs ? New Music Weirdo, Fat Cat CC, The Hall is Good, Balanescu and Get the Funny Police ? present a wry ironic awareness of a music and music community that occasionally takes itself too seriously.
On the other hand there are the more objective abstract pieces such as Riis, Sparling or Trio, entirely without programme, the intention being to present music objects that articulate structures of purity, with no extra-musical concerns.
The detachment and restraint is an aspect that makes this music very English in its manner, also reflected in its understatement and self-mockery or self-apology. It also has a down-to-earth quality, the familiarity of the material connecting more with the every day than the imagined, and an honesty which suggests more an awareness of knowing exactly how to say exactly what it has to say, without boring anyone with irrelevant display or ostentation ? just clear presentation.
Tim Parkinson, May 99