Our recording of Oliver Leith's good day good day bad day bad day was released in August 2020
Deadpan, subversive, quietly anarchic, disarmingly heart-sore and sweet-sour music that makes masterful use of space and placement and sparse forces and really deft repetition [...] there is great style and finesse in what Oliver Leith is doing. [...] I've listened to [good day good day bad day bad day] an awful lot since it arrived in my inbox and I am enchanted afresh every single time.
Kate Molleson, BBC Radio 3 New Music Show
good day commands and deserves repeat listens [...] its runic character is simply engrossing. At the centre of this feeling are GBSR, whose characters are built lovingly into the score. They seem to cherish the score’s intimacy, making it a really heartfelt expression of their sensitivities.
I was surprised to find myself turning to good day as an accompaniment to the everyday that the piece explores. I’ve listened to this piece on good days followed by good days, bad days followed by bad days, and most times in between. […] It became unexpectedly poignant as good days and bad days coalesced, becoming indistinguishable and then unremarkable. Whether as an accompaniment to, a reflection on, or a gentle critique of the everyday, good day stands as a tenderly created and thoughtfully realised gem.
Hugh Morris, Tempo
At the premiere I remember thinking the opening was one of the most dreamy things I’d heard in ages. But I’d forgotten just how many more sweetly sad worlds the rest of the work carries us to. New music does not get more lovable than good day good day bad day bad day. It’s a piece you want to hug. A sweet-hearted hypnagogic gem from one of the young masters of the sadboi school.
Each of [good day...'s] eight movements focuses on a single musical idea, some deliberately commonplace, others that are insidiously repetitive. There are moments of unexpected grandeur alongside sheer banality, yet somehow the mixture is curiously addictive.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian
Each successive movement adds a layer of sentiment that hovers close to wistful melancholy, gently rocking itself into more troubled depths [...]
The inventive use of instrumentation adds depth and complexity, while the duet form of the piece gives clarity. Together, they manage to combine the bright and the plaintive into an indivisible whole. It feels like a piece that will continue to grow and change for the listener, even as a single recording. [...]
There’s a simplicity that appeals to the listener in the manner of the populist wing of the minimally modern composers, but with an emotional sophistication which just deepens with each successive listen, where so many others would quickly wear themselves out. The piece does not necessarily get darker as it proceeds, just more sweetly inextricable in the complexity of its mood. The piece welcomes you in as it refuses to explain itself, like a favourite love song that gratifies your need for sadness. [...]
The two musicians play with an evenness and interior calm that makes the music’s formal structure and changes in instrumentation flow naturally without apparent effort. They make it all seem inevitable, even as the outcomes remain unknown, with a transparency that makes their playing inseperable from the music.
Ben Harper, Boring Like a Drill
This extraordinary eight-movement work, mostly very slow and with each movement circling around innocuous material, is a study in musical haunting. The brushing metallic resonance of the waterphone, a prominent sound in the last movement, is more likely than any other instrument to get lodged in your ear, but the haunting goes far beyond that. Sometimes in good day... [...] the performers are joined by recorded sound in a collision of found objects with newly created music, and the sum is far greater than the individual parts.
Caroline Potter, Tempo
Leith and GBSR deserve equal credit for the success of this piece, which indicates that we shall be hearing far more from all three of them in years to come.
John Eyles, All About Jazz
Leith buys into nothing, or nearly nothing or is it nothing completely? He’s direct, humorously detached while, impossibly or ironically, remaining deeply involved, a lover and purveyor of musical diversity dogmatically beholden to none of it. He moves between subjects like water between rocks, never circumventing but never staying long, a stream of consciousness in infectious careen. [...]
Whatever adaptations the listener makes in order to engage with the material on something approaching its own terms inevitably fail as preconceptions shatter. [...] So intriguing are the moment-to-moment details, like what seem to be claves in microtones pervading and repeating until 6:27, that the forest is obscured by the trees. [...]
The musicianship is impeccable, and it is a testament as much to percussionist George Barton and pianist Siwan Rhys’ subtle virtuosity as to Leith’s investment in same that this fragmentarily cinematic piece works as well as it does. [...]
Rhys often channels the filigreed instincts guiding 1940s Messiaen piano music, and there’s no sound that Barton executes with anything less than delicacy [...]
Palindromic events do occur, especially as the piece’s end somewhat mirrors its beginning, but it’s all loose, all a bit raucous in a beautiful way and all loads of fun! Who doesn’t smile at the tremulously gliding pitch of saw or whistle? The humor is far from overt, and behind it all, whatever grandiosity or tiny step toward metamorphosis might occur, it’s calm, translucent, the harmonies as beautiful as they are just that bit cold. I refuse to call them sad.
Marc Medwin, dusted