AMN Reviews: Robert Scott Thompson – Of Natural Magic and the Breathing of Trees (2017; Aucourant Records)

One of the difficulties in reviewing electroacoustic music is describing what you hear in terms of the familiar. There is a disconnect between music that is largely generated without the help of traditional musical instruments and the usual technique of illustrating music in terms of what actual instruments are doing. Thus the challenge of Robert Scott Thompson‘s latest release, Of Natural Magic and the Breathing of Trees. The sounds therein are hauntingly similar to what one might hear in modern classical as well as the ambient music of Steve Roach or Klaus Schulze. But it is different enough to feel alien.

Unlike Thompson’s recent works, such as Palimpsest, this release focuses on different aspects of ambisonic spatialization – pieces specifically composed for multi-channel playback with speakers at particular locations relative to the listener. Nonetheless, the album is quite enjoyable even when it is coming out of only two speakers.

The 30-minute title track leads off, featuring ringing tones, decimated samples, and even Japanese-sounding plucked instrumentation. Broken piano chords punctuate falling debris. Flutes rise and fall accompanied by non-rhythmic scraping metallic percussion. There are no drones or sound walls per se, or build-ups to a crescendo. Instead, a combination of keyboard washes, electronics, and crackling elements come and go to create a haunting soundscape.

Magiae Naturalis is a quieter piece that focuses on incidental percussion, scraping, and slowly breaking glass. Background tones create a troubled atmosphere. Sattva begins with gently percussive electronics and overlapping drones. The track is rhythmic in nature, with tuned and found-object percussion.  But it also combines ominous chording with an Eastern feel. Every Something is an Echo of Nothing features bassy rumbling and sparse metallic hammering, while Metta ends the album with haphazard bells, deep and spacious partial drones, as well as metallic birdsong.

Even though the theme of the titles appears to be the natural world, Thompson has created something that could easily be viewed as post-industrial or otherworldly. The result is one of his best electroacoustic releases.

Read our previous reviews of Robert Scott Thompson’s music:
https://avantmusicnews.com/2015/06/03/amn-reviews-robert-scott-thompson-palimpsest-2015-aucourant-records/
https://avantmusicnews.com/2015/09/09/amn-reviews-robert-scott-thompson-summer-idyll-2015-bandcamp/
https://avantmusicnews.com/2015/03/25/amn-reviews-robert-scott-thompson-arcana-2014-relaxed-machinery-repeated-by-dreams-2014-bandcamp/

Harry Partch Celebration at the University of Washington

Harry Partch (c. 1969), from the cover of The ...

Source: University of Washington. Partch, Braxton, and Magma.

The School of Music and the Harry Partch Ensemble, Charles Corey, director, present three consecutive nights of distinct programming celebrating the music and handmade instruments of 20th Century composer Harry Partch, whose instrumentarium is in residence at the UW School of Music.

May 31 PROGRAM

2 Psalms, 17 Lyrics by Li Po & The Potion Scene by Harry Partch

June 1 PROGRAM

The Grave of Li Po: Luke Fitzpatrick
Fratres: Arvo Pärt, arranged by Luke Fitzpatrick
Three Songs: Charles Ives, arranged by Jeff Bowen
Trois Gnossiennes: Erik Satie, arranged by Charles Corey
Nocturne: John Cage, arranged by Luke Fitzpatrick
O King: Luciano Berio, arranged by Charles Corey
Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh: By Magma, arranged by Zack Myers
Ghost Trance Music 228 and 245: Anthony Braxton
Ring Around the Moon Act 1 Scene 3 – Happy Birthday to You! – Afro-Chinese Minuet by Harry Partch
The Final Countdown, by Europe, arranged by Lou-Chuck F. Donaldson

June 2 PROGRAM

Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales: Harry Partch
The Rose, The Crane, The Waterfall & Cloud-Chamber Music from Eleven Intrusions: Harry Partch
Two Settings from Finnegan’s Wake: Harry Partch
The Potion Scene (both versions): Harry Partch
Sextet for Violin and Percussion (4): Alan Hovhaness
Concerto in Slendro (2): Lou Harrison
Concerto for Violin with Percussion Orchestra (3): Lou Harrison
Dance: “Mallets in the Air”: James Tenney
Castor and Pollux—A Dance for the Twin Rhythms of Gemini: Harry Partch

Cafe OTO in June

Oren Ambarchi of Gravetemple.

Source: London’s Cafe OTO.

Thursday 1 June 2017, 7.30pm
Half Japanese + the Blumbergs

Friday 2 June 2017, 7.30pm
Roger Turner / Arthur Bull / Sandy Ewen / Alan Tomlinson (Quartet)

Sunday 4 June 2017, 6.30pm
Oto Project Space:
Nopa #2

Sunday 4 June 2017, 7.30pm
Richard Francés + Contra Legem + Marx Freud (DJ)

5–6 June 2017
Kammer Klang:
Else Marie Pade &Amp; Henning Christiansen

Wednesday 7 June 2017, 7.30pm
Upset the Rhythm Presents:
Nots + the Worms

Thursday 8 June 2017, 7.30pm
Apologies in Advance #5:
Ashley Paul + Beyt AL Tapes + Louie Rice + Barby Asante

Friday 9 June 2017, 7.30pm
DJ /Rupture &Amp; Andy Moor (the Ex) + Grace and Delete

Friday 9 June 2017, 7.30pm
Oto Project Space:
ながれ / Nagare

Sunday 11 June 2017, 7.30pm
Hyperlocal Presents:
Odwalla 1221 + Xname + Jam City

Monday 12 June 2017, 7.30pm
Historically Fucked + Thf Drenching + Silver Dick

Wednesday 14 June 2017, 7.30pm
Cuspeditions Presents:
Clive Bell + Rie Nakajima + Sylvia Hallett + David Ross

Saturday 17 June 2017, 7.30pm
Neil Michael Hagerty / Nick Mitchell (Duo)

Sunday 18 June 2017, 7.30pm
AKøDE (Alan Wilkinson / Kim Johannesen / Ola Høyer / Dag Erik Knedal Andersen)

Monday 19 June 2017, 7.30pm
Marsm, Supersonic &Amp; Nawa Recordings Present:
Kamilya Jubran / Wasl + Two Or the Dragon + Nadah El Shazly + Khyam Allami

Tuesday 20 June 2017, 7.30pm
Upset the Rhythm Presents:
the Space Lady + Flowers Must Die

Wednesday 21 June 2017, 7.30pm
Julie Kjær 3 (Julie Kjær / John Edwards / Steve Noble) + Veryan Weston (Solo)

Thursday 22 June 2017, 7.30pm
Half the Sky – the Music of Lindsay Cooper

Friday 23 June 2017, 7.30pm
the Scorpios

Saturday 24 June 2017, 7.30pm
Steven Warwick

Monday 26 June 2017, 7.30pm
Goat + Ben Vince

Tuesday 27 June 2017, 7.30pm
the Man Hurdy-gurdy &Amp; Me

Wednesday 28 June 2017, 7.30pm
+3db Label Night:
Lemur + Lene Grenager + Tilbury / Duch / Prevost

Thursday 29 June 2017, 7.30pm
Theoral

Friday 30 June 2017, 7.30pm
Oren Ambarchi / Crys Cole (Duo) + James Rushford (Solo) + Manuel Lima (Solo)

The Stone in June

Uri Caine

Source: New York’s Stone.

6/1 Thursday (HM)
830 pm
Yasmine Aziaez, Joe Morris
Yasmine Aziaez (violin) Joe Morris (guitar)

THE STONE AT THE NEW SCHOOL—55 WEST 13TH STREET
JOHN ZORN IMPROV NIGHTS
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY JUNE 2-3 AT 830PM
For the inaugural weekend at our new home The STONE presents two of our legendary improv nights. Expect the unexpected and many special guests! A STONE BENEFIT!
JUNE 2—John Zorn (sax) Ikue Mori (electronics) Peter Evans (trumpet) Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet) Craig Taborn (piano) Sylvie Courvoisier (piano) Kenny Wollesen (drums)
JUNE 3—John Zorn (sax) Dave Douglas (trumpet) Uri Caine (piano) Ches Smith (drums) Chris Tordini (bass) Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet) Jim Staley (trombone)

6/2 Friday (JAJT)
830 pm
Brad Barrett, Eric Stillwell, Joe Morris
Brad Barrett (bass) Eric Stillwell (trombone) Joe Morris (guitar)

6/3 Saturday (RKXX)
830 pm
Shock Axis
Joe Morris (guitar) Chris Cretella (electric bass) Dave Parmelee (drums)

6/4 Sunday (NB)
830 pm
Joe Morris, Dre Hocevar, Chris Pitsiokos, Henry Fraser, Lester St. Louis, Charmaine Lee
Joe Morris (guitar) Dre Hocevar (drums) Chris Pitsiokos (alto) Henry Fraser (bass) Lester St. Louis (cello) Charmaine Lee (voice)

6/5 Monday (RK)
830 pm
BRIAN MARSELLA TRIO—BUER
Brian Marsella (piano) Trevor Dunn (bass) Kenny Wollesen (drums)

6/6 Tuesday (DT)
830 pm
SOLO PIANO—CAINE PLAYS ZORN
Uri Caine (piano)
Uri Caine plays selections of John Zorn’s Bagatelles and compositions from his Masada songbooks.

6/7 Wednesday (SK)
830 pm
URI CAINE TRIO
Uri Caine (piano) John Hebert (bass) Ben Perowsky (drums)

6/8 Thursday (RK)
830 pm
Ofakim
Uri Caine (piano) Jim Black (drums) Ralph Alessi (trumpet)

THE STONE AT THE NEW SCHOOL—55 WEST 13TH STREET
MARK FELDMAN—SYLVIE COURVOISIER
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS JUNE 9-10 AT 830
Mark Feldman (violin) Sylvie Courvoisier (piano)

6/9 Friday (ISDT)
830 pm
MAHLER
Uri Caine (piano) Joyce Hammann (violin) Ralph Alessi (trumpet) Chris Speed (reeds) Mark Helias (bass) Jim Black (drums)

6/10 Saturday (HMSK)
830 pm
URI CAINE TRIO
Uri Caine (piano) Mark Helias (bass) Clarence Penn (drums)

6/11 Sunday (NB)
830 pm
CHAMBER MUSIC
Uri Caine (piano) and many special guests

6/13 Tuesday (JA)
830 pm
Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96 (“American”)
Yonatan Gat (guitar) Curt Syndor (organ) Michael Coltun (bass) Greg Saunier (drums) Raphael McGregor (lap steel)

6/14 Wednesday (JA)
830 pm
Michael Coltun SOLO//Music For 7 Basketballs + Electronics Pt.1: Performed By MOCREP
Michael Coltun (bass, electronics, tapes loops and controlled motors) Amanda Bailey, Lia Kohl, Nick Meryhew, Zach Moore, Isaac Stevenson, Christopher Wood, Ryan Zerna (basketballs)

6/15 Thursday (JA)
830 pm
Les Rhinocéros
Michael Coltun (bass) Amit Peled (guitar) Jon Burrier (drums, percussion)
First New York performance in 2 years!

THE STONE AT THE NEW SCHOOL—55 WEST 13TH STREET
BRANDON ROSS
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS JUNE 16-17 AT 830
Brandon Ross (guitar)

6/16 Friday (XXNA)
830 pm
Michael Coltun/Brian Chase DUO
Michael Coltun (bass, electronics) Brian Chase (drums)

6/17 Saturday (XXAV)
830 pm
Cheick Hamala Diabaté & Mankan
Cheick Hamala Diabaté (n​’​goni, vocals) Rob Coltun (guitar) Michael Coltun (bass, tapes, electronics) Cem Misirlioglu (drums, samples, prophet analog synth) plus special guests

6/18 Sunday (RK)
830 pm
KOLTUN
Michael Coltun (bass, electronics) Cem Misirlioglu (percussion, samples) Jad Atoui (modular synths) Jacob Bergson (prophet synth, modular synths)

6/19 Monday (DT)
7pm
Bruce Lee Gallanter’s Birthday Celebration and Concert of Spiritual Jazz!
Unbroken: Louie Belogenis (alto sax) Shanir Blumenkranz (bass) Kenny Wollesen (drums) Franklin Kiermyer Quartet: Jovan Alexandre (tenor sax) Davis Whitfield (piano) Otto Gardner (bass) Franklin Kiermyer (drums)

6/20 Tuesday (HW)
830 pm
First Light
Kyle Bruckmann (oboe, electronics) Theresa Wong (cello) Chris Brown (keyboard, computer)
NYC premieres of: First Light (2016), setting of poems by Jackson MacLow in Harry Partch’s 43-tone tuning / Obelisk (2014), in 7-limit just intonation, with interactive electronics / Snakecharmer (1987), newly restored version, for Kyle Bruckmann, oboe

6/21 Wednesday (HW)
830 pm
Structures from Six Primes
Zeena Parkins (harp) Nate Wooley (trumpet) Chris Brown (piano)
Improvisations within selected 13-limit harmony-rhythm proportions from Six Primes (2014)

6/22 Thursday (AR)
830 pm
Transit
John Bischoff (live electronics) Tim Perkis (live electronics) Chris Brown (live electronics)

THE STONE AT THE NEW SCHOOL—55 WEST 13TH STREET
WADADA LEO SMITH
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS JUNE 23-24 AT 830PM
Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet)

6/23 Friday (TDJT)
830 pm
Six Primes (2014) (NYC premiere)
Chris Brown (piano)

6/24 Saturday (ARAP)
830 pm
The Thorn (2017)
Miguel Frasconi (glass objects, analog electronics) Chris Brown (piano, computer) John McCowen (contrabass clarinet)

6/25 Sunday (HM)
830 pm
Frank Kartovsky, William Winant, Chris Brown Trio
Frank Kartovsky (woodwinds) William Winant (percussion) Chris Brown (piano, computer processing)

6/27 Tuesday (NA)
8:30 pm
Voice, Vibes & Bass
Ken Filiano (bass) Ingrid Sertso (vocals, poetry) Karl Berger (vibes, piano, composition)

THE STONE COMMISSIONS
WEDNESDAY JUNE 28: JULIAN LAGE
In collaboration with National Sawdust The Stone presents a series of World Premieres the last Wednesday of every month through 2017.
7pm at National Sawdust in Williamsburg. For details check https://nationalsawdust.org/event/jazz-stone-commissioning-series/
TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS

6/28 Wednesday (AV)
8:30 pm
Hustling Raindrops
Billy Martin (percussion) Peter Apfelbaum (flutes, reeds) Jay Rodrigues (flutes, reeds) Dana Lyn (violin) Falu (vocals)

THE STONE AT RUSS AND DAUGHTERS CAFE!
THURSDAY JUNE 29: GYAN RILEY AND TIMBA HARRIS
ONE SET AT 8PM—ADMISSION FREE!
The Stone is proud to present music at Russ and Daughters Cafe at 127 Orchard Street the last Thursday of every month! Drop by for smoked fish, pickles and great music!

6/29 Thursday (NB)
8:30 pm
Apfelbaum/Rojas/Baptista
Peter Apfelbaum (woodwinds, keyboards, percussion) Marcus Rojas (tuba, percussion) Cyro Baptista (percussion, vocals)

THE STONE AT THE NEW SCHOOL—55 WEST 13TH STREET
DAVE DOUGLAS: RIVERSIDE: The New National Anthem
Dedicated to the music of CARLA BLEY—Greenleaf Music CD release.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS JUNE 30-JULY 1 AT 830
Dave Douglas (trumpet) Chet Doxas (reeds) Steve Swallow (bass) Jim Doxas (drums)

6/30 Friday (ISAP)
8:30 pm
Sertso/Berger Quintet
Kenny Wessel (guitar) Ken Filiano (bass) Warren Smith (drums) Ingrid Sertso (vocals, poetry) Karl Berger (vibes, piano, composition)