Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crys Cole/Jamie Druin/Lance Austin Olsen - Linnaeus' Hydra (Infrequency)

(may I first mention how beautiful the covers to thee two releases are?)

This is a lovely recording yet one of those that, when pressed to describe "why", leaves me with few descriptives. In a a sense, it fits easily enough into quasi-similar work from the recent past--a trio wending their careful, quiet-yet-bumpy way through a field of intimate sounds. As I know I've said before, rather unhelpfully, it boils down to the choices involved and how those choices mesh with my own (hopefully always changing) sensibility. The means employed (Cole: contact microphones, no-input mixer; Drouin: modular synthesizer, radio; Olsen: amplified copper plates, objects) are, these days, unremarkable enough, but the combination works and breathes quite well, plastically here, ethereally there, metallic sometimes, sandy and scratchy others, generally at low volume but, crucially, with no feeling of constraint in that regard, simply not happening, on that day, to get very loud.

I suppose the best one can say is that my attention never wandered. I was always willing to be led down these paths, always finding more than enough to perk my interest, to tickle my brain and ears. A very good job indeed.

Johnny Chang/Jamie Drouin - Tumble (Infrequency)

I'm a bit less enamored of the duo between Drouin and Chang (violin). I should mention that my copy had some poppage which doubtless hindered appreciation, but I could shut that out of my head without too much difficulty as well as listen on the Infrequency site to an excerpt to make sure I wasn't missing anything. They stick to a drone-like approach and it's ok but I never found it so engaging, it never transcended the everyday for me, didn't gain the traction I wanted to hear. Others mileage may well differ.



Jamie Drouin said...

Hi Brian,

Many thanks for taking the time to listen to the two new releases, and I'm pleased you enjoyed Linnaeus' Hydra. I wanted to write a bit about Tumble as I think it's one of my strongest works to date and perhaps requires some further explanation. I also want to make sure that the 'poppage' you mention was not, in fact, intentional parts of the album:

Last year I had the opportunity to work with some very interesting acoustic musicians, a terrain somewhat new to me coming from a predominantly electronic music background. One of the things I recognized in Johnny Chang's performances was his extended gesture on the violin, long single notes which slowly expanded and collapsed simply due to the unstable mechanics of the physical process. I saw a parallel to my own approach to the modular synthesizer, where the slightest instability of electrical current sets up a condition where a supposably indefinitely repeatable process is compromised.

In Tumble we have four studies where the two disparate systems meet - mechanical and electrical - both trying to imitate the other, yet never perfectly achieving that goal. The random variations introduced through fatigue, DC wall current, or the hand incapable of maintaining an identical movement, form the compositions (hence the title, Tumble).

'Drone' has a somewhat negative connotation for me, having worked in that area myself for a number of years, and Tumble, although focused on extended gesture vs brief points/marks, is not intended to be a drone album.

I'm extremely proud of Tumble, and not everyone will (or has to) agree with that assessment, but I did want to provide a more in depth perspective of the concept for discussion ;-)

Also, let's chat about the 'poppage' to make absolutely sure it's not an issue with your copy!


Brian Olewnick said...

Hi Jamie, thanks for commenting. It's a funny thing with this music, but I'm occasionally a bit baffled by "extraneous" noise, not sure whether it's intentional or otherwise. Sometimes, of course, I don't really care; other times, it seems (if unintended) to go strongly enough against what the music was meant to be that it's a distraction.

I was fairly sure the pops here were disc defects, but listened to the extract on-line to be certain, which contained nothing similar.

SOrry about the almost automatic Drone reference. I should watch that. And thanks for the elaboration. It's always quite helpful to me, as a listener, to be aware to at least some extent of what was going in the heads of the performers. I still may not *like* the result so much, but it doesn't hurt, obviously, to have a better grasp on things. I had this experience with Olivia a couple years back--we had great discussions after one of her shows, where she filled in the (considerable) gaps in my awareness.

I do look forward to hearing future work from you and your compadres.