“I don’t think I’ve ever quite felt so much of a sense of being alone in the world.”
This is how flutist Tim Munro described what it was like to film the music video for “Liminal Highway,” the new five-movement work for solo flute and electronics written for him by Christopher Cerrone.
When Cerrone and Munro teamed up with Evan Chapman and Kevin Eikenberg of Four/Ten Media to create the video, the collaborators were inspired to capture the composition’s sense of space. Cerrone wrote “Liminal Highway” – the title of which comes from the poem of the same name by Canadian musician John K. Samson – while living at the American Academy in Rome. He described how the acoustics of the building would change dramatically as he walked from room to room, which got him thinking about a piece “wherein the acoustics were part of the structure.”
The result was a work with a mesmerizing sense of direction: sometimes seeming to drive forward with pinpoint accuracy, sometimes looping back on itself among a cascade of percussive key clicks. Chapman and Eikenberg knew they had found the perfect visual setting for the work when they came across the SS United States, a retired ocean liner docked in Philadelphia. Once a luxury vessel that transported merry passengers across the Atlantic, the ship had long been stripped of its fittings; the hull was laced with rust, and the interior led from one abandoned, echoing chamber to another.
“I’ve almost never been in a space where the ghosts of the past seem so present,” Munro reflected in the making-of video for “Liminal Highway.” The filming locations took place in areas where passengers would have gathered in large groups: the ballroom, the old theater, the sundeck. “This ship, this kind of hulking graveyard – it feels like I can almost hear the sounds of the past, the voices, the clinking of glasses, the sound of music. Chris’s music is so much about memory that the idea of doing a video of ‘Liminal Highway’ in such an evocative memory space was too good to turn down.”Four/Ten Media filmed the video before the coronavirus pandemic struck – but its release is timely. It’s hard to watch the video and not feel as if the work also functions as an elegy, as the viewer looks on at Munro serenading himself in isolation, in spaces where communal celebration once took place.
“Liminal Highway” was released on August 21 by New Focus Recordings. The EP is available for purchase here.