The three masterpieces of Christopher Tin

As part of the Kickstarter campaign for To Shiver The Sky, Christopher Tin made a set of all three albums available. And since I only had the first two downloaded and because they are some of my favourite albums ever, I obviously jumped at the chance to get a signed set. And it is finally here.

Christopher Tin albums

I’ve written about To Shiver The Sky and the first two previously (in Swedish) and there isn’t much to add. All three contain some amazing music by a great composer, and while I still prefer the more varied tone of Calling All Dawns and The Drop That Contained The Sea, the last album is constantly growing on me and is even more refined technically.

It’s worth listening through the entire albums, and many of the tracks form a complete movement so that it’s hard to separate them. But here, in order of appearance, are my six favourite parts. Because it would be too hard to pick just one from one of them.

* I’ve listened to so many versions of ”Baba Yetu” over the years that it’s hard to pick a favourite, but that’s also the appeal. It doesn’t matter if it’s the original version from Civilization IV, or the album version performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir, or versions by Alex Boyé or Peter Hollens, or Angel City Chorale’s full concert performance, or the Stellenbosch University Choir, or the performance Tin conducted himself at Llangollen. It’s always filled with joy and constantly reinvents itself.

* The final four tracks of Calling All Dawns form an amazing suite across four languages and cultures. This is Tin at his most unique and pleasant, inviting people to explore new horizons. The most glorious part is ”Hamsafar”, sung beautifully in Farsi, but all of it is great. The interleaving of the very masculine, traditional Maori dances and the bright, uplifting choir parts of ”Kia Hora Te Marino” makes for a very rewarding combination.

* The Drop That Contains The Sea has a similar structure as the previous album but saves its singular masterpiece ”Iza Ngomso” for a bit. It’s a constant barrage of beautiful voices and some delightful flourishes in the middle bridge, like the little flute that sends chills down my spine.

* ”Waloyo Yamoni” finishes off the album in style, with a single 12 minute track that introduces several different themes before combining them all in a powerful conclusion. It’s like a short story in itself, and once the initial theme returns at the 9 minute mark it’s all fantastic from there.

* The opening 18 seconds of To Shiver The Sky are perfect: promising greatness and delivering over the next couple of minutes. Not only is ”Sogno di Volare” possibly the single strongest theme of Tin’s creations and the separate opening track magnificent, it’s used to great effect to cap off ”The Fall” and the poignant end of ”Oh, the Humanity”. The sky is shivering and so am I.

* The brief but powerful ”The Power of the Spirit” flows seamlessly into the epic ”We Choose to go to the Moon” at the end of To Shiver The Sky, and after the bleak, war themed section that reflected the early 20th century, these tracks create a hopeful story for the future. Despite the fact that the text of both songs originated during the Cold War, it’s worth remembering and celebrating that there is indeed a crew of American and Russian fulfilling Kennedy’s words in the International Space Station at this very moment. The final two minutes crescendo into a fittingly epic end for this trilogy of albums … for now.

You may recognize that these fantastic parts form large sections of these three albums. Yes. That’s my point.

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