AMN Reviews: Stephen Whittington – Music for Airport Furniture (Cold Blue)

Considering the wear and tear to which we subject them, don´t our public benches and tables deserve a little relaxing entertainment all their own? In a smile-inducing conflation of Brian Eno´s landmark ambient piece Music for Airports and Erik Satie´s unobtrusive but cerebral, “furniture” music, Australian composer Stephen Whittington (b. 1953), who has in fact staged a multimedia show with Satie at its centre and dedicated music to a furniture designer, premieres his new, twenty-three minute piece as a CD single for the stylish and discerning Cold Blue label.

The airport departure lounge is a nonplace bustling, emptying and re-bustling with people weighed down with as much emotional baggage as physical. Whittington captures that ennui while reinstilling travel with the romance it used to imply. As played by the Zephyr Quartet, from Adelaide just like the composer, Music for Airport Furniture is open and airy, contrails elegantly criss-crossing a sky-blue background. Ever elevating, the viola sighs, the cello is occasionally plucked, an impatient passenger shuffling his feet.

A beautiful piece, far too attention-getting to be considered ambiently unobtrusive.

Stephen Fruitman