AMN Reviews: Microtub – Star System [SOFALP544]

sofa544This is the second release from Microtub, the trio of Robin Hayward, Kristoffer Lo and Martin Taxt playing works in just intonation for their microtonal tubas. For Star System the group interpret two compositions notated as three-dimensional, color-coded graphic scores meant to provide spatial representations of the microtonal tuba’s compass and harmonic capabilities.

The title track—the score to which is reproduced as an image on the CD’s cover—consists of long tones laid out as unisons, octaves, and simple harmonies built on or implying a major triad. As the three tubas’ lines double each other and overlap, higher overtones emerge to enrich the sound and fill out the harmonies. Square Dance, like Star System a slowly unfolding piece of about twenty minutes’ duration, sets up a chord progression over pedal points, its suspended chords taking on a hymn-like quality at times, the tubas somehow mimicking the sound of an organ.

Microtub is minimal music sui generis—a sonically rich aggregate built up of deceptively simple elements.