Two new releases from Pan y Rosas retrieve the classic sounds of analogue and early experimental electronics and put them to different, but musically substantial, uses.
The aptly-titled Fluid Timescape, single track of nearly thirty-eight minutes’ duration, is the product of a collaboration between keyboardist/percussionist Andy Cohn and synthetist Elbio Barilari. Recorded in November 2015 in Cohn’s Chicago warehouse—a musician’s Arcadia containing over 3000 musical instruments of all kinds, including a collection of gongs and keyboards—the improvisation is a concordant meeting of Roland synthesizers and Steinway and electric pianos. Barilari and Cohn recreate the sound and ambience of classic space music—the synthesized fanfares, portentous minor chords shifting into the pitchless sounds of rushing wind, the shimmering, rattling and droning timbres secreted between suspenseful arpeggios and probing melodies. Allusive rather than imitative, it all sounds fresh and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable, expansive soundscape.
Blue Amsterdam by Sonicbright—the duo of French violinist Gaëlle Deblonde and Athens native Errika Manta on electronics—is an EP of two tracks, the first recorded in Paris in 2014 and the second, longer track recorded in Amsterdam in 2011. The newer piece is a compact, atmospheric work for acoustic violin fixed within a setting of classic experimental electronic sounds. The relationship between the two voices is complementary, the melancholic warmth of the violin folding into the more abstract—but nevertheless responsive—rush and klang of the electronics. The long title track takes a different approach, weaving the violin directly into the electronic texture. Looped and overlaid, its tones stretched and extended into a broad band of sound and then displaced through granulation, the instrument obliquely recalls a mellotron gradually decomposing. At the heart of the piece is Deblonde’s irreducibly melodic playing, whether in a mixolydian mode that threatens to, yet never quite does, resolve, or in darker passages in minor modes.