Saturday, March 27, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Platonic Electrons and Voice

Iva Bittova/Bang on a Can All-Stars: Elida. 2005. Cantaloupe Music: CA 21027.

Iva Bittova: violin, voice
Robert Black: bass
David Cossin: drum set, percussion
Lisa Moore: piano
Mark Stewart: guitars
Wendy Sutter: cello
Evan Ziporyn: clarinets

These ears don't get nearly enough of Bittova's silky lyricism. The extended vocal techniques and creative turns are an exquisite balance of song writing sensibility with a command of the abstraction of compositional matter. Even when revisiting Elida the qualities of this music are still unnerving. The shifting collage of focal points that seamlessly weaves texture and voice is a rare pleasure. Even more rare is the feat of sonic hooks that draw in the ear without wearing out their welcome for a music that is durable and inviting.

Louis Andriessen: De Staat. 1991. Electra Entertainment: 9 79251-2.

Schoenberg Ensemble
Reinbert de Leeuw: conductor
Maarten Karres: oboe
Ernest Rombout: oboe
Maarten Dekker: oboe, english horn
Justine Gerretsen: oboe, english horn
Willem van der Vliet: trumpet
Hendrik Jan Lindhout: trumpet
Huug Steketee: trumpet
Jos Verspagen: trumpet
Iman Soeteman: horn
Christiaan Boers: horn
Peter Hoekmeijer: horn
Theo Hoekstra: horn
Toon van Ulsen: trombone
Pete Saunders: trombone
Albert Zuyderduyn: trombone
Peter van Klink: bass trombone
Hans Kunneman: electric guitar
Patricio Wang: electric guitar
Rob Zeelenberg: electric bass guitar
Mapje Keereweer: harp
Ernestine Stoop: harp
Henk Guittart: viola
Aimee Versloot: viola
Rena Scholtens: viola
Jouke van der Leest: viola
Claron McFadden: soprano
Barbara Borden: soprano
Yvonne Benschop: mezzosoprano
Ananda Goud: mezzosoprano

This setting of an excerpt from Plato's Republic is loud and steeped in the irony of how sadly wrong Plato was about the power of dissonance as a vehicle of subversion. If harmony really could subvert governments then De Staat would be illegal. As it is, this piece courses through my veins as an old favorite. A vocal style and political message with strong parallels to Steve Reich's Desert Music with a decidedly less gentle bend and brass parts designed to knock walls off of their foundations.

Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura: Between. 2006. Erstwhile Records: 050-2.

Keith Rowe: guitar, electronics
Toshimaru Nakamura: no-input mixing board

Between is a good word for these other worldly sheets of sonic matter. A musical space that exists within a sliver between what is and is not audible. Extended explorations that often convey the illusion of settling into a perpetual introduction. Keith Rowe having refined his skills at improvising quietly for long durations over the decades with AMM applies his signature ears to these soundscapes. Rowe and Nakamura allow the electrons themselves to tell their own story through the signals barely revealed here. A revelation of the infinity that lies between silences.

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