AMN Reviews: Mari Kimura – “Voyage Apollonian” [Innova 958]

kimura-coverComposer/performer Mari Kimura is a violinist that has earned international acclaim in both standard and contemporary repertoire. She is one of contemporary musics finest interactive computer music specialists and has premiered many new interactive works from composers such as Jean Claude Risset and Robert Rowe. Her latest effort “Voyage Apollonian” is a compilation of her recent work featuring six original compositions and arrangements of pieces by Brazilian composers Egberto Gismonti, Joao Bosco and Hermeto Pascoal.

Kimura’s current work makes use of her many years of research and collaboration with leading institutions such as IRCAM, into the use of new technology for interactive computer music and technological extension or augmentation of the violin. Working with IRCAM and Liubo Borissov, Kimura has developed a glove that uses various motion sensors to transmit the motion of the bow into the computer via WiFi. The motion sensing technology is able to detect gestures such as pizzicato and various types of bowing. This motion or gestural control is then used to interact with custom software. Kimura uses this ability to communicate to the computer her expressive intentions in real time. This allows her to control the real time signal processing of her violin as well as the ability to use gestures as cues or triggers that interact with the computers software.

The title track “Voyage Apollonian” has kind of an impressionistic or spectral feel to it as it alternates between various pizzicato and bowed phrases in a kind of call and response. This alternation develops as a kind of interplay between phrases and their articulations. By using the gestural control of the glove/bow, Kimura is able to choose in real time which software signal processing techniques – doubling, reverb, echo, harmonization, etc. she wishes to apply to the phrase she is playing as she is playing it. But this gestural interaction is not just limited to signal processing. On her arrangement of Hermeto Pascoal’s  “Bebe” Kimura uses the sensor technology to cue the virtual pianist as it plays a vamp for her to solo on. This allows her to dynamically control the length of the accompaniment for her improvised solo.

In addition to her inventive use of technology, Kimura’s compositions also bring her own unique twists to familiar forms. For example in “Bruer Vivant” Kimura paints a passacaglia with bits of “Romanticism” mixed with dazzling contemporary electronics. “Canon Elastique” is a two voice canon where the glove/bow gestural control is used to modify material she has played after it has been delayed by software forming a second canonic voice. However the result is not a simple echo or a minimalist texture. The technology allows Kimura to change her musical past in real time by the way in which she articulates the first voice.

Mari Kimura’s sonic explorations are not just limited to using technology with the violin but extends to discovering and perfecting new acoustic techniques. She has developed an innovative extended bowing technique that is able to produce subharmonic pitches that sound up to an octave below the violins lowest string without re-tuning the instrument. While she uses this technique throughout the works on this disc it is prominently featured on the only unaccompanied acoustic piece on this CD “JanMaricana”.

“Voyage Apollonian” covers a great deal of territory; from Brazilian sambas and jazz to unaccompanied violin with subharmonics to new musical interfaces with interactive computer technology. Despite the use of cutting edge technology and new innovative acoustic techniques the music on this disc does not sound very “technical”. The use of technology is at the service of the performer and has been carefully designed to be flexible and expressive. In Kimura’s hands the results are a highly expressive music that is warm and organic, rich in color and nuance. Highly recommended.

Chris DeChiara

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14 Years of Avant Music News

Once again, I have to step back and consider how much this site has grown since I launched it on this day in 2003. We have published over 675 album and concert reviews and 45 interviews, not to mention nearly 25,000 total articles. I estimate that we’ve recommended 2,000 or so albums in our AMN Picks of the Week series.

Of course, what keeps us coming back is our audience, which has continued to increase each year. Thanks to all of you for your attention in a world that is overrun with media, and thanks for your appreciation of avant / creative / weird music.

13 Years of Avant Music News

On April 29, 2003, I posted the first article on Avant Music News. My goal was to establish a single place on the net where one could go to find information on all sorts of interesting, off-beat music, with no specific genre constraints. Today, we have a few thousand regular readers and followers. Despite the worldwide audience for this sort of music not being huge, I feel as if we’ve accomplished a modest goal by getting this many people together, and providing updates virtually every day for the last 13 years.

Today, there are many other places that you can go to find news, but our niche is that we put it all in one place, directing your attention to what we believe to be the most relevant and interesting articles and information. And we do provide our own reviews and interviews from time to time as well.

My thanks go out to our readers and contributors for making Avant Music News what it is in 2016, and allowing it to continue to grow.

How to Get Reviewed on Avant Music News and Other Trivia

Happy February. January 2016 was our most successful month yet, if you measure success in terms of web site traffic, social media coverage, and general interest. One of the side-effects of such “success” is that we have many, many more submissions for review coming in.

So, if you have or are thinking of submitting a recording for review, please hop on over to our new page, How to Get Reviewed for the scoop on our present situation, and a few pointers on how you can increase your chances of having one of us write about your music.

Thanks!

Arbitrary Milestones and the “Like”

I just noticed that we passed 3000 likes on Facebook. We have a commensurate number of followers on Twitter (~2830 as of today).

While I’m not saying that this means much of anything other than 3000 people clicking on a button, it is a pretty cool milestone. About 5 years ago we had only 300 likes on Facebook, and I mentioned to a friend that this was probably as much as we could expect to get. After all, who in their right mind is interested in all of this weird music enough to actually want to receive information about it in their news feed?

I was only off by an order of magnitude, and the upwards trend has continued steadily.

So…please keep proving me wrong. I don’t mind at all.

12 Years of Avant Music News

Just a quick and non-sentimental note that we celebrate our 12th birthday today. I started AMN on April 29, 2003 as a way of providing information about types of interesting music that I thought was poorly represented in the media, or represented in a scattered fashion.

Thanks to all of you for helping build this site into what it has become today.

-Mike

Avant Music News 2015 Update

imgres2014 was a record year for Avant Music News, in terms of postings, traffic, and overall busy-ness. We’re hoping 2015 continues in the same fashion.

Just a few quick notes regarding random topics:

  • We have new page on our top menu that links to our annual “best of” lists (or just go here). These lists always prove to be some of our most popular material, and now they are easier to find.
  • Last year we posted 2170 articles, of which 130 were original reviews, and 24 were original interviews.
  • Our review backlog continues to grow, with about 25 review requests per published review. If you are a musician, label, or PR person, please don’t be discouraged if we don’t get back to you regarding your requests. There just isn’t enough time in the day. But please continue to send requests, as we do read and consider every single one.
  • With respect to reviews, if you are a seasoned music reviewer who would like to contribute to Avant Music News, please drop me a line with a few writing samples. As noted above, we receive tons of promo material for review, and it would be nice to have a couple more people knocking out the reviews.
  • Our current reviewers are both awesome and nice! Special thanks to Dan, Dan, Stephen, Monique, Vincent, and others for all of their valuable contributions.