Sunday, September 04, 2011



A few very quick thoughts about the first three nights of AMPLIFY:stones. I had to miss the opening set, Antoine Beuger's "approcher s'éloigner s'absenter", though I heard glowing reports about it. The first Pisaro piece (can't recall the title, but it was from 2005), played by Barry Chabala, Dominic Lash and Ben Owen, was calm and spare in the manner we'd come to expect, beautifully executed. The very recent "hinwandeln, augen zu" (hope I'm attributing the title correctly) was gorgeous, with the much fuller sound that's been evident in recent recordings on Gravity Wave. Owen contributed some wonderful textures midway between a watery gurgling and a more abrasive tack, soft but rich. There was even a kind of allusion to a descending rockish cadence for the guitar at one point. The sound was consistent, flowing form one member to the other, very peaceful but with roiling beneath. I trust it will see release sometime--I'm quite sure there's more to discover within than one listen yields.

Two more "traditional" improv sets on Friday, Bonnie Jones and Maria Chavez opening. I thought the performance was a bit inconsistent, achieving some strong surges, then dissipating and meandering a bit, utilizing a not unfamiliar array of harsh electronics and vinyl turntablism. To the extent I could discern the contributions, which wasn't that hard, I found Jones' work more incisive and to the point. Again, though, this is a new pairing and I'm curious to hear more. David Kirby, using mostly cassettes (six or eight sources, I think), augmented by a software IPad app he wrote to simulate certain Moog sounds, provided a rough, rollicking set of full-on burbling noise. Again, there were very strong initial statements that I think could have been elaborated on to better effect and occasionally the thread would get lost, but there were enough "saves" to make it worthwhile. Kirby too, is relatively new at this game and it was exciting to glimpse the potential.

Saturday's opening set by Vanessa Rossetto (viola, electronics) and Graham Lambkin (electronics, objects in cardboard box), was wonderful and strange. That box, clearly a nod toward "With Hidden Noise" was a fine...what's the word I want? not "symbol" but perhaps evocation or embodiment of the magic aspect of this music, Lambkin manipulating various things (stones were involved) obscured from one's view. Rossetto provided the glue via viola dronage as well as contributing her own roughage. There was a real sense of surprise and lack of knowing where things would go but their steps were largely unfailing. A possible ending was reached when Lambkin tore apart the box, but things lingered and a luscious kind of exhalation sound amidst drones was achieved, the music slowly, very slowly, fading and ending perfectly.

Olivia Block performed entirely on piano, all acoustic, the first time I've heard her doing such and apparently a new direction for her. She structures things somewhat beforehand (not entirely improvised, in other words) and devoted almost all her time here to inside the piano, beginning by thrashing about at the strings forcefully, then investigating dynamic peaks and valleys. Overall, I found the quieter areas far more successful as she showed her fine, fine touch when eliciting the most delicate sounds from the gentle stroking of the strings and, even better, a grainier attack where the roughness was fascinatingly offset by the quietude. The few occasions where she introduced single keyboard notes were gorgeous, offering a brief tonic to the otherwise more percussive music, with very much of a Tilbury feel. Again, despite a few meanderings (including staying with the louder beating of the strings with mallets for longer than necessary), the set ended beautifully, in a soft lushness, perfectly timed.

So, a lot of exciting, intriguing, not always successful but often enough music!

Tonight, Lescalleet and Rowe/Wolff--could be amazing.


2 comments:

Captain Hate said...

As a novice of this type of music who attended Saturday's shows, there's something very accessible and welcoming about solo piano.

Jon Abbey said...

Hinwandeln was the first (older) Pisaro piece, augen zu the second and the one he wrote for that trio (and dedicated to them) for that set.