Neil Gaiman and Australia’s FourPlay String Quartet are pleased to share a new track, ‘In Transit‘ from Signs of Life, their first album together, and Gaiman’s first official album release. Signs of Life will be released on April 28th, 2023 via Instrumental Recordings with cover art by Shaun Tan. ‘In Transit’ follows earlier singles ‘Bloody Sunrise‘ and ‘The Wreckers‘.
Rich, kaleidoscopic and highly visual, ‘In Transit’ is a magnificent merging of two previously written pieces of work, combining an instrumental by FourPlay with Gaiman’s poignant and touching tribute to the English astronomer Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington. In Gaiman’s poem, he explores Eddington – the man behind the astronomer who proved Einstein’s theory of relativity during his 1919 expedition to Principe, off the coast of West Africa, by observing the stars in a total solar eclipse. A quiet and reserved soul who ultimately led a lonely life behind the public persona of a world-renowned astronomer.
The first half of Gaiman’s poem is formal, rhythmic and measured, while the second is informal and conversational. His writing reflects what he calls the ‘twin suns’ in the two dramatically different parts – the public self and the private self. FourPlay’s instrumental is also divided into two parts, at first reserved and delicate, then building and opening out into a soaring, exultant multilayered piece with rhythmic and mellifluous strings, effects and soaring vocals reflecting the magic and wonder of Gaiman’s poem and its subject.
The Neil Gaiman and FourPlay String Quartet collaboration was born in 2010, when Sydney Opera House’s Graphic Festival commissioned FourPlay to write a soundtrack to Neil’s novella The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains for a live performance with him. That collaboration led to a beautiful creative partnership, where Neil and FourPlay developed an original suite of works around the concept of the zodiac, with the traditional signs replaced by a new collection of words and objects exploring aspects of life. They called this collaboration Signs. Some of the work on Signs of Life was developed for that project, and nestled alongside these original works are existing poems and stories of Neil’s adapted with FourPlay’s music, two “covers” of songs from Neil’s previous projects and an instrumental inspired by Neil’s work.
Reflecting the fact that each have always refused to be pigeon-holed in their creativity, together in Signs of Life they have created something remarkable and unique. The album is a gorgeous, ground-breaking and genre-bending collaboration between an iconic author and a singular musical ensemble. Part songwriting, part poetry, part story-telling; all-encompassing, all-engaging, all beautiful.