Doumany/Brophy

Make It Up Club, Bar Open, Melbourne © 2018 - photo by Leanne McLean

Background

Doumany/Brophy is a collaboration between harpist/vocalist Mary Doumany and drummer Philip Brophy. The two met while sharing a bill on one of James Hullick's Jolt tours in Japan. Philip has since utilized Mary's harp playing for his multi-chan el audio installation Atmosis and for the music score to Martine Corompt's multi-screen video installation Torrent. The Doumany/Brophy project sees them composing and improvizing together, in live and recorded instances.

Credits

Harp & voice - Mary Doumany
Live prepared drums, vocal samples & live vocal processing - Philip Brophy

2017

Recording session - Gelatin

2018

Long Play, Melbourne
House concert - Mary's place, Kyneton
Make It Up Club - Bar Open, Melbourne

Long Play, Melbourne © 2018 - photo by Lara Travis

Overview

Having performed in a variety of situations where 'improvization' was a focus of an event or evening's bill, Mary and Philip decided to work on a suite of pieces which employed a measure of improvization, but in the service of a more traditional 'song' format. Mary is an accomplished and evocative singer (with various side projects highlighting this) but the improvization context was often a harder fit for her melodious voice. The two convened in the studio to work on some pieces that utilised Mary's dual skills in singing and harp-playing. The tracks developed over three sessions (stretched over one and a half years) to cover a range of styles, fusing forlorn rembetika, demonic sprechstimme and morbid chorales - all buffered by explosions of prepared harp and sizzling soundscapes of prepared drums.

Listening back to the final mixes of the 9 tracks created through this process, Mary envisaged the songs to link to the famous trials and tribulations of Greek mythology. A suitably pompous framework to place around their joint compositions which are in turn garrulous, flighty, spitting, visceral and ethereal.

Technical

For the first recording session, Mary improvised a range of extended vocal techniques. Philip then selected fragments from these and processed them to make background vocal textures. These were then sent to Mary, who familiarised herself with the sounds. The duo then met again in the studio and improvized on drums and harp with the textures playing in the background. After working out some basics, each track was then recorded live - all drums, vocals & harp - while listening to the background vocal textures on headphones. The final mix incorporated the live tracks and the background vocal textures. Occasional effects were employed, sometimes on the vocals, and sometimes on the snare. 9 tracks were recorded, all of which are performed live.