In the Ring - lyric photo book accompanying music album
Rounding out the trilogy of albums that he has released since the start of 2014, drummer/ composer and storyteller Sean Noonan released, In the Ring is the second album in Noonan’s A Gambler's Hand chamber music series, in which Noonan writes for and performs with the NY-based Momenta Quartet: Emilie-Anne Gendron and Adda Kridler on violins, Stephanie Griffin on viola, and Michael Haas on cello.
On In the Ring, as he did on A Gambler’s Hand, Noonan utilizes the strings as extensions of his own limbs, both conceptually and literally. “I learned a lot from both making and touring with A Gambler’s Hand in how a string quartet strives to be one organism and similar to how I condition myself on the drum kit. As my compositions and performance on the drums were in effect a reflections and extension of one another, “ explains the drummer. “Yes both works belong to the same chamber series but however there is an aesthetical difference between In the Ring and A Gambler’s Hand. The relationship that I’ve established between the strings and myself behind the drums remains the central musical core of the two projects.”
On his latest album, the prolific Noonan presents a collection of song cycles that together tell a story about the transformation of a man who get tickled by a sunbeam one morning on a mountain top, and who, as the story progresses, wanders and gets lost in a desert and transforms into a coyote. The coyote hitches a ride from the American folk hero Casey Jones, whose train crashes at the bottom of the sea, where the coyote transforms into the Celtic mythological creature known as a Silkie, and eventually back into his human form. As a result of his adventures, he loses his shadow; he can only reclaim it by challenging his own shadow to a round of shadow boxing In the Ring.
“This song cycle is intented to be performed in sequence as a single entity, and is a reflection of the American cultural melting pot experience ,” says Noonan. “Often after riding the C Train in Brooklyn and wandering around the planet I found myself collecting stories and finding characters so much they invited me to dinner. Sometimes at the table there were folk heroes and even later I had tea later with Alex Lomax.
Noonan incorporates cultural archtypes from a variety of sources, such as Casey Jones, and the Native American trickster/deity, Coyote, into his stories to illustrate some common themes that he’s discovered in his personal explorations.