Electroacoustic improvisation has the potential to be a music of timbral complexity, of rapid shifts of sound colors within a multi-layered environment. Throughout this bountiful 3-CD set Triple Point lives up to that potential, as would be expected from such a fine assembly of improvisers.
Triple Point is made up of Pauline Oliveros, Jonas Braasch, and Doug Van Nort. Each has a distinctive voice, but the group’s sound is a genuinely collective, emergent object in its own right.
Oliveros plays the V-accordion, a virtual instrument that digitally models the sound of an acoustic accordion while preserving the acoustic instrument’s physical playability. As might be expected, Oliveros pushes the instrument beyond its repertoire of standard voices to extend its timbral range into more distant sonic territories. Braasch’s soprano saxophone is the one acoustic instrument, a powerfully serpentine presence darting throughout each piece. Braasch’s use of extended techniques expands the sound palette of the instrument in ways appropriate to this color-based music.
But the key to the group’s sound is Van Nort’s real-time granular modification and electronic playback of the other two musicians’ lines. He can alter the timbres, pitches and tempos of the V-accordion and saxophone, inserting microtones into the flow of a line, or gradually morphing Braasch’s real, and Oliveros’ simulated, reed instruments into a virtual brass section. Pitches emerge from their encounter with the electronics the way light emerges from its encounter with a prism—bent and broken into constituent colors that previously lay hidden. The extraction and multiplication of tones and timbres makes for a complex polyphony in which acoustic and electronic lines often coalesce into thick planes of sound rubbing past, over and through each other.
Several tracks on each disc add Chris Chafe collaborating via internet on celletto, a MIDI-based electronic cello. Chafe enriches the mix with electronically enhanced pizzicato and arco tones.