Saturday, February 02, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Begin A Gyan

Briggan Krauss: Descending to End. 1999. Knitting Factory Records: KFW-251.

Briggan Krauss: electronics

With a studio created sound so meticulously polished and honed into an other worldly aural artifact the sensation of submersion into a fully alien sonic atmosphere courses throughout this listening. There's a healthy sense of "loud" coursing through these creations and the occasional periods when reference points from this world poke through the din - the crescendoing saxophone tones against drums in "Encumberance Essence" being one of the most dramatic - provides strong gravity to the swirling processed timbres that dominate the soundscape. Ugly and beauty are forcefully reconciled and come out one and the same.

Elliott Sharp/The Soldier String Quartet: Cryptid Fragments. 1993. Extreme: XCD 020.

Elliott Sharp: composer, computer processing, buchla thunder
Margaret Parkins: cello
Sara Parkins: violin
Laura Seaton: violin
David Soldier: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Mary Wooten: cello
Michelle Kinney: cello

I recall the shock and complete dismay at finding this disc in a 99-cent bin some years after I had already purchased it new. The feeling of existing within a society that treasures its trivial detritus at the expense of genuine value has rarely been so singularly encapsulated. The idea that a CD that had so consistently informed, influenced and nourished my musical thinking had become so thoroughly devalued remains unfathomable. To this day, the music found on Cryptid Fragments continues to be a reference point for these ears.

The primary attraction remains the four movements of the title track, an exquisite study of the brittle sonority of severely processed string timbres. The music that follows that track is an excellent snap-shot of Sharp's "ir/rational music," a kind of improvised/algorithmic approach toward string music that coaxes such startling forms and resonances. The final track, Umbra, presents a live-oriented approach toward processed solo strings as a conceptual bookend for the studio processed material at the start of this sequence. The contrast between the studio and live approach is both severe and fascinating.

Terry Riley: The Book of Abbeyozzud. 1999. New Albion Records: NA 106 CD.

Terry Riley: composer
David Tanenbaum: guitar
Gyan Riley: guitar
Tracy Silverman: violin
William Winant: percussion

The formal and melodic sensibility of Terry Riley as refracted through acoustic guitar-centric settings. This is another reference point for my ears as it gets a few spins in the rotation. And on this visit it's the two-movement duet for guitar and percussion piece, Dias de los Muertos that draws me in with the strongest gravity. The light touch of hand chimes, cymbals and membrane drum provide punctuation for the guitar lines at times. This is counterbalanced against sections where the marimba weaves in accompanying melodic material. The expressive sensitivity of the performances on this disc are remarkable.

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