AMN Reviews: Kasper T. Toeplitz – Amas [Pogus 21086-2]

Kasper Toeplitz (b .1960), the Polish-born composer currently residing in Paris, began his career in the 1980s writing for traditional acoustic orchestral instruments. To be sure, his influences were drawn from the outer edges of the Western art music tradition—he’s named the examples provided by Giacinto Scelsi, Gyorgi Ligeti and Iannis Xenakis as having played a significant formative role in his early work. But a 1997 trip to Japan brought about a shift in in focus. While in Japan he engaged in improvisation and collaborated with Merzbow and Tetsuo Furudate, and put together what he describes as a “big noise orchestra” that toured Japan and Europe. At around this time he also formed Le Dépeupleur, a laptop duo with Zbigniew Karkowski, and became involved in composing textural works using the computer not only as a compositional tool but as an instrument for live performances. Amas is one such work, consisting in a single hour-plus long accumulation of sound in which largely unpitched noise is summed and built up into a substantial, thickly-textured mass. The piece is in essence a gradual electronic crescendo-decrescendo in which bands of noise spread out over a wide compass, starting with a low frequency rumble and working their way through to a trebly static. A seemingly long way away from an acoustic ensemble, perhaps, but a not-unrecognizable heir to the sound-block experiments of Toeplitz’s early inspirations.

Daniel Barbiero