released July 8, 2022
In Antarctica, Leonard found a fascinating array of sounds, but also alarming transformations underway in local ecosystems. Even to a first-time visitor, the effects of climate change were palpable: new islands unveiled by retreating glaciers, increasing populations of sub-Antarctic seals and penguins, beds of moss and grass in areas that had historically been buried under snow and ice.
Once Leonard returned home, she sifted through hours of field recordings and uncovered the sonic qualities of the stones, bones, and shells that she had gathered on her journey. Some of these objects worked as found instruments in their own right, others were fashioned into elaborate sculptural forms in order to enhance the sounds that Leonard heard within them. The composer mapped the wild timbres and natural resonances that she coaxed out of this new set of Antarctic instruments to a notational system that utilizes graphic and text elements in addition to traditional notation. Throughout the album, it is often difficult to distinguish between field recordings and sounds played on natural objects, as the instruments so embody the place from which they came.
Leonard has assembled a series of compositions that are as beautiful as they are haunting. Bowed penguin bones howl along with Antarctic wind, icicle drips produce gamelan-like textures before shattering amongst calving glaciers, and kelp flutes duet with the gentle snores of napping elephant seals. Music from the Ice points at a present that contains a potential future. It is an engrossing listen to a place we are all connected to, even if we never set foot there ourselves, a treasure as both a document of the fragile Antarctic ecology and an artistic achievement.
Composition, recording, words: Cheryl E. Leonard
Executive Producer: Charles Amirkhanian
Producers: Cheryl E. Leonard and Andrew Weathers
Mastering: Andrew Weathers
Design: Oona Stern
Photos: Oona Stern and Cheryl E. Leonard
All music © 2022 Cheryl E. Leonard, Great Hoary Marmot Music, ASCAP