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Sound and Structure: Nick Schofield’s Glass Gallery

  • Portrait
  • PHI
By  PHI

Imagining the architectural canvas of PHI Centre's new Window Booths, we asked artist and record producer Nick Schofield to come and inaugurate the space by performing his Glass Gallery album.

We created an environment that switches the attention between three dimensions - The artist, his environment, and the imaginary. This was an exceptional opportunity of collaboration to pay tribute to the art of music in a form other than the standard performance format before a live audience.

Antenna Nick Schofield Glass Gallery Cover

Montréal electroacoustic mainstay Nick Schofield occupies a unique presence in the city’s vibrant electronic music scene. Alongside his active role in projects Saxsyndrum, Best Fern, and Rèves sonores, Schofield’s solo work embraces an idea he calls “environmental music,” emphasizing a sense of place and contemplation. Following his full-length LP Water Sine and subsequent EP Sound Mind, Schofield continues to experiment with his singular style of ambient music on his 2021 release Glass Gallery, a warm, ruminative album inspired by Moshe Safdie’s National Gallery in Ottawa. After performing three songs from the album in the Window Booths of the PHI Centre, Schofield spoke with poet, art historian, and curator Mojeanne Behzadi of Art Speaks about the inspiration behind Glass Gallery, the beauty of architecture, and the relationship between music and museums.

Nick Schofield | Mirror Image | 6m45

Antenna Nick Schofield IMG2

Described by Schofield as an “ode” to the National Gallery, Glass Gallery explores the idea of architecture as art and music and space. Much like his previous solo work, Schofield employs a distinctively simple approach to production on Glass Gallery, composing the album entirely on a vintage Prophet -600 synthesizer. Despite the album’s frugality, Glass Gallery pulses with a distinct sound that lies somewhere between the stream-of-consciousness experimentation of K. Leimer and Laurie Spiegel’s cosmically searching The Expanding Universe. Schofield’s work has long been concerned with contemplation, but Glass Gallery engages with the open introspection encouraged by museum architecture. By placing the album within the context of a specific building, especially one intended for viewing visual art, Schofield asks if the architecture of a museum might share with music similar gestures in form and structure.

Nick Schofield | Ambient Architect | 2m49

Schofield and Safdie share a fascination with specific parts of the museum, such as the ramp leading into the museum, with Safdie himself describing his desire for the ramp to function as a “kind of procession” leading participants to the unique environment within. Glass Gallery begins in much the same way. The album’s opener, “Central Atrium,” starts with a simple melodic motif, repeated throughout the track under the swell and fade of rich bass notes and warbling, string-like pads, serving a similar function to the same room in the museum itself, that is, an introduction to the state of receptivity unique to the museum. Many of the songs on the album share in their composition a similar logic to that of architecture; Schofield uses arpeggiation as a means of structure and physicality, while sweeping harmonic chords communicate the open sensation of being surrounded by light and glass. Meanwhile, the song “Getty Garden,” while inspired by installation artist Robert Irwin’s Central Garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, reflects Schofield’s fascination with beautiful architecture in general without seeming tangential. Glass Gallery excels in simplicity. Listening to Schofield perform in the right museum would be a unique meeting of sound and built form, one that might encourage a new understanding of how architecture and music share similar fundamentals of structure and space.

Watch Nick Schofield's Interview at the Centre

Nick Schofield discusses the historical art context of his album Glass Gallery with curator/poet Mojeanne Behzadi, focusing on the parallels of music, painting and architecture.

Nick Schofield | Interview | 17m30

Credits

  • Programming and Production
    Renelle Desjardins

    Composition / Performance
    Nick Schofield

    Art Direction
    Isabella Salas

  • Cameras
    Souligna Koumphonphakdy and Noé Sardet

    Sound

    Phil Rochefort

    Mapping

    Vincent Lafrenière

  • Editing
    Charlie Bouthillette


    Photographer
    Christopher Honeywell


    This article was written by
    Jackson Palmer

  • Interview by
    Mojeanne Behzadi


    Label
    Backward Music


    A PHI Production

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