AMN Reviews: Beam Splitter – Rough Tongue [Corvo Records core013]

Beam Splitter is a duo with a unique, and uniquely broad, perspective on what wind music can be when augmented by contemporary sound technologies and produced through extended performance techniques. The project, a collaboration between Norway’s Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø and American expatriate Audrey Chen, is premised on the idea of creating an interpersonal sound from the dynamic interaction of the participants’ instruments: amplified trombone and amplified voice, respectively.

Ten of the eleven tracks are relatively short collages assembled from fragments of sound recorded during live performances in Vienna and Ljubljana in October, 2016; the long eleventh track appears to capture the real-time flow of Nørstebø and Chen’s July, 2016 performance at the Weincafé in Berlin. The latter track in particular reveals Nørstebø and Chen’s fundamental sense of the dramatic potential of the improvised duet; given the intimacy of pairing the human voice with an instrument not very far removed from the voice—and played in such a way as to emphasize its closeness to voice—it isn’t surprising to hear an element of theatricality in their work even when, through manipulation or assemblage, its surfaces are deliberately rendered illegible. This theatricality extends to their dramatization of the physical gestures underwriting sound production, which are brought to the forefront by virtue of their use of amplification: listening to Nørstebø and Chen, one can never forget that both voice and trombone are dependent on, and have their origin in, breath. For each of us, breath is a highly personal signature at the audible edge of sound; to magnify it, as Nørstebø and Chen do, is to make oneself available in a particularly bold way. And the work on Rough Tongue is nothing if not bold.

Daniel Barbiero

This Week in New York


Michael Gordon and Deborah Artman’s Acquanetta observes the way the cinema has shaped racial/gender stereotypes and has created public/private identities. The piece is inspired by Mildred Davenport, the African-American star of the 1943 cult classic horror flick Captive Wild Woman, who was reinvented by Universal Studios as the “Venezualan Volcano.”
Tuesday, January 9 to Saturday, January 13 at 7:30 PM & Sunday, January 14 at 6 PM
Tickets $30-$75
Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, 29 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY

The North/South Chamber Orchestra welcomes the New Year on Tuesday evening January 9, 2018 performing optimistic and vibrant works by four living American composers.
Tuesday, January 9 at 8:00 PM
Christ and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 120 West 69th Street, New York, NY

The annual FERUS Festival is a showcase of untamed voices. The world’s most innovative artists perform their newest work: in music, multimedia, and beyond. To kick off this year’s FERUS Festival, the British-Bengali vocalist/composer Bishi premieres The Good Immigrant, a song cycle for voice looper, sitar, and electronics, co-produced with composer and sound designer Jeff Cook.
Thursday, January 11 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $25
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

Karla Kihlstedt with Erik Carlson and Bridget Kibbey of ICE at Merkin Concert Hall (photo credit: Ross Karre)
Black Inscription, from Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi, and Jeremy Flower, is a multimedia song cycle that follows a deep sea diver on her Odyssean journey. Written with guidance from experts at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and brought to life by a seven-piece band fronted by three singers, the immersive world premiere is a symbolic, scientific, and emotional plunge into the ocean where wonder, discovery, and reckoning entwine.
Thursday, January 11 to Saturday, January 13 at 9:30 PM
Tickets $30
HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY

Nadia Sirota – Photo by Samantha WestNadia Sirota – Photo by Samantha West
The annual FERUS Festival is a showcase of untamed voices. The world’s most innovative artists perform their newest work: in music, multimedia, and beyond. The second night of the 2018 FERUS Festival, Peabody-winning violist Nadia Sirota joins gamba player Liam Byrne in a full performance of Tessellatum, a singular work of art that blurs the line between music album and film.
Friday, January 12 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $25
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

An entire concert of US and NY premieres of 21st century works by UK composers who have had little to no exposure in the United States.
Friday, January 12 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20
Tenri Cultural Institute, 43 West 13th Street, New York, NY

As a source of inspiration for their intimate musical production Secrets, the Netherlands-based soprano Claron McFadden and Massot-Florizoone-Horbaczewski jazz trio crowd-sourced anonymous stories from the general public. The result is a musical and visual mosaic in which Claron McFadden, singing, whispering and laughing, merges sorrowful, mischievous and cynical passages into one another.
Saturday, January 13 at 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM & Sunday, January 14 at 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM
Tickets $30
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

Nathan Hubbard Quartet at the Santa Monica Public Library, January 17

Source: Santa Monica Public Library.

On Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 7:30PM, the Soundwaves new music series at the Santa Monica Public Library welcomes composer and percussionist Nathan Hubbard and his quartet, performing a set of original music in the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium.

Hubbard is an in-demand performer in styles from musical theater to hip-hop to experimental music and has toured and recorded extensively. He won Best Jazz Album at the 2014 and 2017 San Diego Music Awards.

Hubbard has assembled a truly all-star band for this concert. Violinist Jeff Gauthier was a member of Quartet Music, led his own group the Goatette, and has made profound contributions to the Los Angeles music scene running the Cryptogramophone record label, co-founding the Angel City Jazz Festival, and helping manage the Jazz Bakery. Guitarist Max Kutner is a member of Evil Genius and Izela and has toured internationally with both The Grandmothers of Invention and The Magic Band, playing the music of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart with their former sidemen. Steuart Liebig is the leading electric bassist in the L.A. avant-garde, making his third Soundwaves appearance after a duet with Emily Hay and a trio with G.E. Stinson and Kris Tiner.

Soundwaves is a concert series presenting artists who appear on the DRAM (Database of Recorded American Music) streaming service. The Santa Monica Public Library is the first public library to offer this service to its cardholders. Listings of past and upcoming Soundwaves shows as well as sound and video recordings are at

This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and on a first-arrival basis.