Saturday, September 24, 2011
Patrick Farmer/Kostis Kilymis/Sarah Hughes/Stephen Cornford - No Islands (Another Timbre)
Maybe it's because I'm writing this at the tail end of two weeks + of constant concert going and my music-listening brain is a bit frazzled, but it's difficult for me to figure out what to write about this release, other than to say I like it a lot. The quartet (electronics, turntables, chorded zither and amplified piano) occupy the kind of quiet-yet-scurrying territory that's not so uncommon but do so exceptionally well, breathing air and vitality into an area that often gets overcrowded. They perform two improvisations and then Cage's "four6", the latter in a bird-heavy environment and beautifully paced. The entire recording bristles with intelligence and care--I'll leave it at that. An excellent job--listen.
Dominic Lash/Patrick Farmer/Sarah Hughes - Droplets (Another Timbre)
"Droplets" is even better, containing an improvisation, two versions of a piece by Taylan Susamm ("For Maaike Schoorel") and Eva-Maria Houben's "Nachtstuck". The first realization of the Susam work involves soft, rushing sounds that seem wind-driven though I take it that's not the case. They kind of zip by, almost like sped up versions of car sounds (though maintaining a deep pitch), interspersed with silences. The second take features each musician's instrument as a recognizable element filling more or less the same "portions" of the score with sound. In both instances, a lovely, somber mood is generated. This is, I believe, my first exposure to Susam's music; would like to hear more.
The improvisation, titled "Elusion", is just wonderful. From the initial airplane hum to the steely rustles like metal shavings being disturbed, through delicious low tones and on. Really every moment seems vital here. I saw Dom a few times in the last couple of weeks performing Pisaro's music and was, as always, very impressed; perhaps I focus on him unfairly here, but his playing sounds great, really gluing things together. I guess you could say there's a "wandelweiser" feel in play--it's quiet, spacious and rather linear--but there's also something very flexible here, a certain give and pull that's very enticing. Hard to describe! But great.
Houben's 33+ minute piece (an extract) is performed outdoors, through the rain, by Lash. The downpour is there from the get go, the deep arco drones welling up from the wet in almost stately fashion, like a slow, slow marche funebre, before transforming into sets of scale-like patterns interspersed among others. I'm not sure how I would have felt about the piece sans precipitation; perhaps other plein air sounds would have sufficed. But the rain really does sound fantastic and swathes the bass wonderfully. Whatever, it's lovely to listen to, as is the entire disc. Highly recommended.
James Saunders - Divisions that could be autonomous but that comprise the whole (Another Timbre)
Six pieces that, in a way, occupy a similar space; again there's more than a whiff o' Wandelweiser in terms of quiet, singularity of purpose (within each work) and space. So we have a piece for 10 players sliding coffee cups on different surfaces (a very nice, engrossing work) and one at the end with cup on brick. Radios, bowed wood and metal, etc., thread among traditional instruments but the mood is soft sandpaper and dry rustling. Even the piano tolling in "Part of it may also be something else" sounds unanchored, as do the harmonica and melodica...beautifully so. I went back and forth as to whether I thought matters, overall were too gossamer or just right, coming down on the latter more often than not. In fact, something about the music reminded me, in effect anyway, of how I find Christian Wolff's music so eely and difficult to grasp. I'm fairly certain there's far more to the music than I'm able to get at this moment and I'm doing it a disservice; I hope to get back to it in the future. In the meantime, people should hear this.
Tierce - Caisson (Another Timbre)
Jez riley French (field recordings, zither, etc.), Ivan Palacky (knitting machine) and Daniel Jones (turntable, electronics). One piece, about 58 minutes long and an enjoyable if not always riveting one. That's perhaps unfair as "riveting" is unlikely to be what this trio was aiming for; one has more a sense of deriving enjoyment from an unforced kind of meandering (meant in a good, ambling way), the elements introduced leisurely, with ample space. You don't get the sense an arc of any kind was intended, more of a "walk". It densifies about 15 minutes in, storms for a bit before splaying out for most of the remainder. Not sure what it is that I find a wee bit lacking--perhaps wanting more grit. But it's fine, a nice web of titters and tones, hums and speckles. A perfectly good stroll.
Anett Németh - A Pauper's Guide to John Cage (Another Timbre)
This recording grew on me quite a bit over repeated listens, possibly having to do simply with state of mind. What I initially found a bit arid "filled in" very much over time. Two pieces, the title track for piano, clarinet, objects, field recordings and electronic was composed along Cagean lines, using chance procedures to determine elemental aspects, all items save piano treated electronically to some extent. But that piano, sporadic though its contributions are, serves as a supple spine and gives the music--soft but essentially mellifluous--a very attractive, sinuous character, like a small pool of water expanding on irregular ground. The second track is smoother, enjoyable in a post-"Obscure Music" kind of way (it's for "manipulated recordings" and electronics), moving along slowly, the hollow tones oozing amongst the field recordings. Pretty nice though, again, some added grit mat have been welcome. Good job, though, and add Ms. Németh to the list of people whose work I'll be curious about in the future.
All in all, a really fine new batch from Another Timbre. Congrats, Simon.