This album was created from letters and journals written on a journey through grief. And while the inspiration for the album came from a dear friend, its message is universal.
The music was composed by Grej (Gregory Harrison) in collaboration with Maureen. The concept is a marriage between classical and electronic genres that utilizes voice, piano, harmonium, synthesizer, and field recordings.
Maureen Batt & Grej Explore The Tides of Grief on “Lighthouse”
Without a doubt, the standout song of Lighthouse is also the most unexpected. Grej describes how a rule for him was to utilize Batt’s voice in arrangements as much as possible before using his go-to instrumentation, and “Pieces of You” accomplishes this in an astonishing manner. A ping-pong of pads and fragments of Batt’s vocalizations build and bounce off one another, resembling the work of Steve Reich, before moving into an ever-growing dark electronic swell. Eventually, the dam bursts, and an overwhelming wave of buzzing synth, kick drums, and a ghostly wail wash over the listener, churning with intensity. It truly is the epitome of this potent collaboration’s resonant beauty and a testament to both artists’ abilities.
“Lighthouse” is a powerful venture into the annals of grief. Not only is it an exceptionally well-executed body of music, it is profound in its dive into a real loss that reverberates through each member of this creative endeavor. But with something so personal at the core of the experience, depicting the universality of grief was always the guiding force the group wished to convey- which they have accomplished beautifully.
~Brandon Lorimer, The East Mag
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CBC Summer 2021 Guide: 21 Albums You Need To Hear:
“Lighthouse is for anyone who has experienced the loss of someone close,” explains soprano Maureen Batt, who teams up with Grej (percussionist/producer/composer Greg Harrison) for this new project on the Leaf Music label. Pushing classical art song into a new realm with electronics and polished studio effects, Lighthouse is a cycle of nine songs based on letters written by their friend, Tom Belding, to his late wife, Ashley Belding, who died from cancer in her 30s. To tell this love story tinged with grief, Batt’s voice is enveloped in a mix of piano, harmonium, synthesizer, and field recordings that fuses elements of minimalism, electronica and prog-rock. Exciting to see where classically trained musicians will go when they think outside the box and embrace other genres.”
~ Robert Rowat, CBC
Summer 2021 Album Guide
A Captivating Cross-genre Musical Exploration Articulating New Sonic and Narrative Accounts of Grief:
“A captivating cross-genre, multimodal song cycle collaboration by Grej and Maureen Batt, Lighthouse presents a rich tapestry of electronic and art music featuring field recordings, epistolary source materials, and creative experimental techniques.
It is an album that rebukes singular experiences and expressions of healing and instead explores multiple understandings of interconnection, memory, and the non-linearity of time. There seems to be a clear sense of circularity of the album both thematically and musically. The album opens and closes with gorgeous instrumental meditations that include a lot of field recordings, especially waves, to establish the meditative temporal gesture that introduces and concludes the album. This theme persists throughout the album, as transitions between tracks seamlessly flow from section to section and song to song–in some ways there is a clear lack of musical finality, but also something very circular, cyclical.
This impressive collaboration includes an inventive mix of vocal and musical styles that overlap and cross genre. Perhaps the most dazzling musical element of the album is the powerful affective charge of Maureen’s voice through spoken word, soaring lyrical phrasing, and, especially, the ways in which Grej configures these vocal gestures to create multiple complementary and contrasting vocal manifestations. Through instrumentalizing Maureen’s voice, experimenting with wave-like textures, and freely constructed forms, the music seems to index a whole range of interpretations and experiences of grief.
Though this project is certainly informed by lived experiences of loss, this album also shares a message of grief that is collective—that shows the multifaceted contours of grief: of pain, love, loss, longing, hope, and healing. Listening to this album, especially from start to finish, conveys the difficulty of translating the ineffable components of grief into sound and song. These musical translations and interpretations of the source materials and original journey of grief have transformed into a new story with many more interpretive layers that in some respects mirror the album’s origin story but also articulate new sonic and narrative accounts of grief.”
Maria Murphy, Ph.D.
Writer, teacher, performer, music historian
Associate Director, Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Recorded at Gillespie House Inn, Parrsboro, NS
Producers: Gregory Harrison (Grej) and Maureen Batt
Recording engineer: Gregory Harrison
Editing & mixing: Gregory Harrison (Oxford Studios, Fredericton, NB)
Mastering: Jeremy VanSlyke, Leaf Music
Album artwork: Tom Belding
Layout: Kristan Toczko
Photos of Maureen and Gregory: Kylee Nunn
Photo of Ashley: Tom Belding
Copy editor: Jill Rafuse
All music composed by Grej in collaboration with Maureen Batt.
Maureen Batt: Vocals, Field Recordings
Grej: Piano, Harmonium, Synths, Vocals, Electronics, Field Recordings
Lighthouse YouTube Playlist