AMN Reviews: Jérôme Combier – Gone [Aeon AECD1651]

Pitch can be likened to shadow. Shadows exist along a gradient, varying in darkness and density with the position of the viewer, the relative constancy of the light source, and the interposition of objects. Like shadow, pitch is something that exists in gradations rather than in discrete units that are precisely defined one against the other, the equal temperament tuning system notwithstanding. Much of the music of Jérôme Combier’s Gone, a set of five compositions for chamber ensembles of various sizes, takes pitch as a shadowy phenomenon with blurred boundaries.

Terra d’ombra (2012-2015), a work for partly-prepared piano, harp and cello, evokes the analogy of sound to shadow in its title. Combier’s allusion is to umber, a dark brown color named for a clay originally from Umbria, but the term translates literally as “earth of shadow.” This archaeological meaning comes out in the piece itself. The composition is based on gestures producing muted sounds—most dramatically, percussive strikes on the instruments’ bodies and partly-damped strings—which blend into well-defined pitched sounds on piano. There is no hard-and-fast boundary between the two classes of sounds, and pitch itself, particularly as it’s played on the cello or the prepared strings of the piano, is often treated as a continuum or fuzzy aggregate. Gone (2010), for clarinet, piano, string trio and electronics takes the conception of pitch as a continuum even further. Playing alone or in combination, the instruments create clouds of sound through glissandi, harmonics and extended techniques; pitches slide into and through each other and disappear into pure timbre. A similar effect is had in the swooping, wobbling microtonality of 2015’s Dawnlight for flute, piano, violin, cello and electronics.

The taut and at times jagged Dog Eat Dog (2014) for cello and acoustic guitar relies less on a dilution of pitch and more on a simplicity of structure. The three-movement work is organized to feature one or a limited number of gestures per movement; although the performers are restricted in the types of sounds or techniques they are to play, they manage to draw timbres from every part of their instruments. The string trio Noir Gris (2007) is somewhat more conventional in sound but it, too, is built up out of deliberately limited elements, in this case melodic fragments meant to parallel the rhythms and durations of speech.

The Ensemble Cairn, a group founded by Combier and made up of alumni of the Conservatoire National Supérieur of Paris, bring these pieces to life with vividness and a refined sense of color.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Picks of the Week: Phurpa / Jazznoize / Trouble Kaze / Yarn/Wire / Brandon Seabrook / La Breiche

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Phurpa – Gyer Ro (2017)
Jazznoize – Obra Sintética (2017)
Trouble Kaze – June (2017)
Yarn/Wire – Currents Vol. 0 (2017)
Brandon Seabrook – Die Trommel Fatale (2017)
La Breiche – Le Mal Des Ardents (2017)

This Week in New York 


TIGUE performs the world premiere of Randy Gibson’s The Four Pillars Appearing from The Resonating Discs invoking The 72:81:88 Confluence in a setting of Quadrilateral Starfield Symmetry ATS4 Base 6:81 – a live performance in Harmonic Time.
Monday, April 10 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $21, $14 students
Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street, New York, NY

In his New York solo recital debut, featuring Treuting as composer and performer, he explores solo repertoire for percussion, including the premiere of a revised version of Oblique Music for Four plus (blank), for solo percussion and string quartet.
Tuesday, April 11 at 6:00 PM
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY

Transcendental Geometry from Contemporaneous will explore new music written with non-traditional tunings from around the world. While most of the music heard in the United States is created in “equal-temperament,” the system of tuning used by the modern piano, the program will explore the music of the broader world using entirely different pitches.
Tuesday, April 11 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15-$20
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

This benefit concert for the ACLU features Amy Burton, John Musto, Kathleen Tagg, David Krakauer, Lara St. John, Alicia Svigals, William Schimmel, Todd Reynolds, and 9 Horses with Kevin Garcia.
Saturday, April 15 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $37, $35 children/members/seniors
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY

Moers Festival 2017 Lineup

Anthony Braxton

Source: Moers Festival.

June 2nd
Il Lusorius
De Beren Gieren
Pantra Sein Hla Myaing
Brian Blade
Carolin Pook / Spacepilot
Yegor Zabelov
Julien Baker
Nuit à Ngwaka / Kongo Session

June 3rd
John-Dennis Renken TRIBE
Keune / Lash / Noble
Dub Trio
Anthony Braxton
Jean-Paul Bourelly œ Gert Neumann
Frank Stanzl

June 4th
Philipp Gropper’s Philm
The Bad Plus
Radio Kinshasa
Satanique Samba Trio

June 5th
Dorian Wood / Ensemble Crush
Cocaine Piss / Mette Rasmussen
Ingrid Laubrock orchestral pieces
Battle Trance
ELEW trio