Sunday, September 07, 2008
Keith Rowe/Seymour Wright -3D (w.m.o/r)
It's an issue, of course, that arises all the time but for myself a little more so in the past few weeks while I was dealing with the Capece DVDs--the necessary inaccuracy of a given capture of a performance that acknowledges the space within which it occurs. In that, I suppose, the majority of recorded eai discs are essentially live performances and generally of a subtle nature, this problem can be especially thorny. So it was a nice happenstance that I received this set the other day which contains three recordings from different vantage points within the concert space, using different equipment, of an event created by Rowe and Wright in Derby, 2002.
The music itself is pretty fine, Rowe in kind of post-Weather Sky mode. I'm much less familiar with Wright's history but here, he seems to travel between blown and percussive/rubbed sounds on his alto. It would take many more comparative listens to determine what's missing in one version, what's heard in another and, in all honesty, I doubt I'll get to that level of interrogation. There are salient "events" easily picked out of the sea of abstraction and I guess one could isolate them, play them back to back, note the variations, but someone else, not me.
What I can do, however, and am indeed doing as I type this, is play all three simultaneously. It so happens I have three CD-playing devices in my room: the stereo, the PC and the XBox and while the latter two aren't by any means ideal, it's worth a go. I noticed the total time varied somewhat so precise syncing seemed a fool's errand and, besides, I'm not so much interested in that as in constructing a "blurred" performance, so I just began them within 15 or so seconds of each other and am sitting back and enjoying the result. Since my stereo speakers are to the rear and the other two in front of me, I automatically get a spatial effect I don't in routine listening. Plus, it seems the events of the concert are enough out of sync that there's no real echo effect, rather gaps of 30-40 seconds between recognizable episodes. Sounds great, actually! Hard to imagine, now, listening to it otherwise. (Coincidentally, I played Terry Riley's "You're No Good" at Record Club this past week, so I have that quasi-similar experiment kicking around in the noodle as well. I was also reminded of the set Mattin did with Malfatti at Tonic a couple years back where he recorded audience sound, playing it back some minutes later, enough time having elapsed that one's recollection of a given cough or chair squeak was slightly uncertain). Just now, some 23 minutes in, Wright lets loose with four relatively clear honks; they made it from XBox to PC to stereo in about a minute, the way the discs are staggered and did, in fact, sound remarkably different in tone, richness, etc. (allowing, to be sure, for the relative deficiencies of my own playback equipment) When Wright begins (I'm assuming) jangling metal objects against his horn or within its bell, the immersive, shimmering effect is quite ticklish!
In that it's on w.m.o/r, you can readily try this yourself (or not), via free download here. I highly recommend doing so and, if you have the means, experiencing the three discs more or less at once. Very rewarding and refreshing.