AMN Reviews: Ingar Zach – Floating Layer Cake [SOFA571]

One way of making existing material new is by rearranging it. On Floating Layer Cake Norwegian percussionist/composer Ingar Zach takes two of his compositions and reimagines them through creative reorchestration. The Lost Ones, originally written for Zach’s percussion and the text and voice of poet Caroline Bergvall, is here rearranged for an ensemble comprising the Canadian string quartet Quatuor Bozzini and guitarist Kim Myhr on acoustic 12-string and zither, as well as Zach and Bergvall. Rearranged this way, The Lost Ones is a work of timbral ambiguity, where it’s initially difficult to disentangle the instruments from the collective sound. The individual voices become more sharply defined as the piece continues: Bergvall’s voice enters for a brief passage; Myhr’s guitar and zither ornament the enveloping drone, as does Zach’s percussion; the quartet gradually adopts bowing patterns that divide the undifferentiated mass of sound into a regular rhythm, further emphasized by Myhr’s forceful strumming. Listening is like watching objects slowly emerge out of fog: first as a vague mass, then as discernible outlines, and finally as three-dimensional bodies projecting out against a grey curtain. The second and final piece on the album, Let the Snare Speak, was first written for percussion ensemble but here is performed by Zach alone. The work, for three snare drums, electronics and vibrating speakers, is a series of hums and flutters produced by a series of sine tones projected through the speakers and altered by their interaction with the drumheads.

Daniel Barbiero