AMN Reviews: Allison Cameron & Contact – A Gossamer Bit [Redshift TK445]; Contact – Discreet Music [Cantaloupe CA21114]

Contact is a versatile, seven-piece new music ensemble based on Toronto, Canada. Founded by percussionist/composer Jerry Pergolesi, who also acts as musical director, the group has the outward appearance of a chamber orchestra, but the inner motivation and skill to cross genres and disciplines at will. Run almost like a rock band, the group draws on avant-garde and experimental art music, improvisation, conceptualism and more. Two recent releases show their fluency in different dialects of contemporary music.

(Full disclosure: I recently filled in at the last minute when visa difficulties prevented members of the ensemble from making a Washington area performance.)

A Gossamer Bit, issued in 2015, features four works by contemporary Canadian composer Allison Cameron. The four pieces are what might be called refigurative works—works that refigure, through adaptation, rewriting or chance reordering, formal or pitch material derived from pre-existing works, whether by Cameron or by others. They also incorporate a good deal of improvisation since, while their forms are fixed at the global level, they may call on performers to exercise a high degree of choice at the local level. For example D.I.Y. Fly, a piece based on the standard Fly Me to the Moon, has the performers play through multiple charts of the song in two different time signatures, each playing at his or her own pace. As a fragmented rhythm section, the guitar and bass maintain the structural integrity of the chord progression, even if only by rumor; at the same time the melody—recast as elongated tones–dissolves into free-floating planes of expansive notes. In Memoriam Robert Ashley refigures Ashley’s graphic score In Memoriam Esteban Gomez by appropriating the earlier work’s structure while changing its component elements. The order of events is specified, as are the pitch sets that make up their content, but the details of the realization—duration, phrasing, articulation, tempo and pitch set sequence—are left up to the performers. Given the instructions, the composition licenses multiple approaches; the pitch material conceivably can be realized as points, planes, or lines. No two performances will sound alike, particularly in terms of textural density. Contact’s realization for this recording is planar and elegiac, couched in somber, long tones intersecting in slow harmonic rhythm.

ca21114_contact_frontMoving from the improvised to the defined, Discreet Music is Contact, supplemented by guests on flute and gongs, playing Pergolesi’s arrangement of the Brian Eno ambient classic. Pergolesi was inspired by the Bang on a Can arrangement of Eno’s Music for Airports; it not only set the precedent of reworking Eno’s electronic ambient music for an acoustic chamber group, but “gave permission” to do so, as he puts it. Originally a work for looped tapes, Discreet Music is here orchestrated for winds, strings and percussion. Surprisingly, the timbres of the acoustic chamber ensemble evoke the timbres of the original piece. But the overall effect of the piece undergoes a subtle shift. Both by rearranging Eno’s two melodic lines as seven lines and pushing to the foreground music that originally was as happily enough ignored as listened to, Pergolesi brings out its harmonically unsettling ambiguity. Although individually bland, the motifs that make up the piece conflate tonic and dominant when overlapped and summed, leaving an odd tension that this arrangement brings into focus—call it the hidden drama of resolution deferred.

Both Discreet Music and A Gossamer Bit give evidence of a group tracing an imaginative path through the labyrinth of possibilities open to contemporary music.

Daniel Barbiero

June at the Spectrum

From New York’s Spectrum (which seems to have a non-functioning website at this time…)

– Exponential Ensemble (June 7)

– Tempei Nakamura & Hitomi Honda (June 7)

– Fka: Bass Holograms NYC, Residency Performance Concert 4 (France) (June 8)
Floy Krouchi and special guests

– Friday Night Jazz with Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic’s Spectral Interzone (June 10)

– Maria Kim Grand Trio (June 11)
Matt Brewer, Sean Rickman & Maria Kim Grand

– John King’s Born Into Flames Series feat. Pauline Kim Harris (June 11)

– Salon with Violist William Lane, Founder/Artistic Director of Hong Kong New Music Ensemble (June 12)

– Patchwork with Noa Even & Stephen Klunk (June 12)

– Zach Seely’s *(con)temporary (in)sights Series with Weston Olencki (June 17)
(*see separate release attached)

– Canyons with Flin Van Hemmen (June 17)
Release show for American Thicket from Eliot Cardinaux out on Loyal Label
Eliot Cardinaux, Mat Manieri, Thomas Morgan & Flin Van Hemmen

– Alessandro Cazzato (Italy) (June 18)

– Samuel Ekkehardt Dunscombe (June 18)

– Teodora Stepancic & Lester St. Louis (June 19)

– Guy Barash’s Eavesdropping Series feat. Grey Neon Life (June 19)
Seth Woods

– Ricardo Bigio (Brazil) (June 24)

– Soundmark Project: Contemporary percussion music (June 24)
Colleen Bernstein, Jordan Curcuruto, Abby Fisher & Eric Retterer

– Ricardo Bigio (Brazil) (June 25)

– Stuart Wheeler (June 25) Tentative

– Aki Takahashi Piano Salon (June 26)

– Live 45 (June 26)
Oliva Betzen, James Schmid, Daniel Goldblum, String Quartet TBD

– Koh Ohtera & Dave Miller (June 29)

– Stuart Wheeler (June 29)



June 2, 2016
Leila Bordreuil Solo, The Gateway
Leila Bordreuil

June 2, 2016
Jooklo Duo, The Gateway
Virginia Genta David Vanzan

June 2, 2016
Brandon Lopez & Peter Evans, The Gateway
Peter Evans Brandon Lopez

June 2, 2016
Brandon Lopez & Leila Bordreuil, The Gateway
Leila Bordreuil Brandon Lopez

June 2, 2016
Barker Quartet, The Gateway
Andrew Barker Michael Foster Henry Fraser Zach Rowden

May 30, 2016
Rhys Chatham Solo, (le) poisson rouge
Rhys Chatham

May 30, 2016
Rhys Chatham with Tim Dahl & Kevin Shea, (le) poisson rouge
Rhys Chatham Tim Dahl Kevin Shea

May 30, 2016
Parlor Walls, (le) poisson rouge
Alyse Lamb Kate Mohanty Chris Mulligan

Infrequent Seams Spring Festival in NY

English: Elliott Sharp live at Saalfelden 2009...

Source: Infrequent Seams.

New York’s Infrequent Seams record label presents three nights of experimental music in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the Firehouse Space.

Friday June 10, 7pm: Devin Maxwell CD Release: Works 2011-2014

Red Desert Ensemble (Devin Maxwell / Katie Porter)
Jen Baker’s Polyverse Ensemble with Ingrid Laubrock & Anais Maviel
Providence Research Ensemble (Providence, RI)
Lucie Vitkova (Brno, CZ) / James Ilgenfritz

Saturday June 11, 7pm

Philip White: Solo Electronics
Hate Speech: Charlie Looker / Jeremiah Cymerman
Seth Parker Woods: Works by Louis Andriessen, Jürg Frey, Klaus Lang,
Matthias Pintscher
Anagram Ensemble: Works by James Ilgenfritz, Natacha Diels, Elliott Sharp

Sunday June 12, 7pm

Anagram Ensemble: Works by James Ilgenfritz, Pauline Oliveros, Jürg
Frey, Charles Waters, Devin Maxwell, Lucie Vitkova, Jonah Rosenberg