AMN Reviews: Espen Sommer Eide – The Waves [SOFA SOFA578CD]; Monopiece + Jaap Blonk – s/t [Shhpuma SHH052CD]

From Europe and the American West Coast, two albums explore two of the possibilities afforded by mixing technologically sophisticated electronic sound art with the human voice.

The Waves, a work by Norwegian composer/instrument builder Espen Sommer Eide with the participation of microtonal tubist Martin Taxt and vocalist Mari Kvien Brunvoll, is a recording of a year-long, multi-room sound art installation in a villa in Maastricht, Netherlands. The album’s individual pieces are meant to capture the different sonic ambiences of the villa’s spaces, which visitors could experience in a mobile, variably perspective manner while moving through the building. On CD this multi-modal, three-dimensional interaction is necessarily reduced to the single dimension of sound, but taken on those terms alone The Waves stands as a substantial piece of timbre- and texture-driven sound art. Of particular note is the contribution of a layer of spoken words by Brunvoll, which draws on texts by Virginia Woolf, A. N. Whitehead, and Bertrand Russell.

A quite different recording combining electronically shaped, textural instrumental work is Monopiece + Jaap Blonk, an album documenting the collaboration of the American improvisational trio Monopiece (Nathan Corder on electronics; Matt Robidoux on guitar; and Timothy Russell on percussion) with Dutch voice artist Blonk—a kind of Antonin Artaud for the 21st century—who contributes electronics as well as voice. The nine relatively short pieces, recorded at Mills College in Oakland, California in April 2018, demonstrate the deep affinity between Monopiece’s brand of mutable, abstract, quick-cut constructions and Blonk’s primal, pre- (or post-?) semantic vocalizations.

Daniel Barbiero