AMN Reviews General Releases Reviews

AMN Reviews: Quatuor Bozzini – Alvin Lucier: Navigations[2021; CQB 2128_NUM]

There have been many technical and technological innovations in music since 1945 but one of the most important aesthetic innovations has been in new ideas that focus on listening. Innovators like Pierre Schaeffer proposed the idea of reduced listening – an attitude in which sound is listened to for its own sake as a sound object, removed from its source. John Cage invited listeners to hear any sound as music. Pauline Oliveros encouraged listeners to actively experience all sounds through a practice she described as “deep listening”. These ideas all contributed to contemporary music’s focus on the experience of sound itself.

Alvin Lucier’s compositions and installations make use of sounds that are often the results of acoustic phenomena. His work focuses our attention and perception on the physical presence of sound interacting within a particular space. Performing Lucier’s compositions requires performers to learn to recognize, activate, play and interact with acoustic phenomena. The Quatuor Bozzini were clearly up for the challenge when they recorded “Alvin Lucier: Navigations”. The album opens with “Disappearances”, a piece that is a single note. That description may sound like it is minimalist to the extreme but to my ears it is a piece rich with development. You hear changes in weight and timbre as each string joins together in unison. The controlled motions of the string’s bows cause phasing and filtering of the sound. The tiny subtle changes in pitch causes beating which reveals pulsating difference tones. Each of these phenomena disappear into one another creating a feeling of movement and making the listener aware of the tiniest changes in pitch and timbre.

The album contains two realizations of “Group Tapper”, a piece that explores room acoustics by having the instrumentalists treat their instruments as percussion. The performers tap on their instruments in various places and reflect the sound coming from their instruments around the room. The recording engineer does a great job of making the room present on this album so that you can really hear how the group’s performance interacts with the room. Placed in between the two realizations of “Group Tapper” is for me the most striking piece on this recording, “Unamuno”.  The piece was inspired by early twentieth century Spanish writer  Miguel de Unamuno and it was originally written for voices. “Unamuno” is based around four pitches that are continuously arranged into different patterns. It has a probing and questioning kind of vibe to it. The Bozzini’s perform the piece with both strings and their voices. The result is absolutely stunning. 

The album finishes with “Navigations for Strings”. At a high level “Navigations for Strings” and “Unamuno” share some of the same types of ingredients. Both pieces are based on four pitches and both make use of slowly changing combinations and difference tones. However, despite these high level similarities the two pieces sound very different.  “Navigations for Strings” is a somewhat dark piece in which continuous changes in microtonality, dynamics and tempo create a sound mass that feels like it is becoming a stasis, but it’s continuous changes never allow it to rest. It is a very haunting piece.

With “Alvin Lucier: Naviagtions” the Quatuor Bozzini have gone well beyond the surface of Lucier’s scores and have totally embraced his challenge to performers to be sonic explorers. “Alvin Lucier: Naviagtions” is a wonderful album with captivating performances of one of the most original and innovative experimental composers of our time.

Highly Recommended!

Chris De Chiara


UCSC/ISIM Improvisation Festival/Conference 2009

Yet another upcoming fest, this one from UCSC/ISIM Improvisation Festival/Conference 2009:

Thursday, December 3
4:00pm: Pamela Z
5:00pm: Soraya Murray’s Panel on Electronic Media and Improvisation
6:30pm: Art Jones
7:00pm: UCSC/ISIM Opening Ceremony (at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center)
David Cope‘s Algorithmic Improvisation Program
– Syncline/Anticline: Ben Leeds Carson
– Freddy Redd
– ISIM Open Jam Session

Friday, December 4
With Keynote Speaker: George Lewis
3:30: George Lewis and Roscoe Mitchell Duet (with Yamaha Disklavier piano)
5:00: Rob DZ’s Freestyle 101
7:00pm: Featured Headliner Charles Lloyd Concert with Geri Allen (Opening)

Saturday, December 5
1:30pm: David Anthony’s Film Series
3:00pm: Jin Hi Kim‘s Electric Komungo
7:00pm: 21st-Century Musicism: Improvisation for your Imagination
– India Cooke
– Ashwin Batish
– Karlton Hester’s The Divine Particle’s Vision #2

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Sonic Circuits Festival, September 22-27, 2009 in Washington, DC

This year’s Sonic Circuits Festival has a doozy of a lineup.

Andrew W.K.+Chris Grier+Ulrich Krieger
Elliot Sharp
Annea Lockwood & Tom Buckner
Marvin Aryes
Nine Strings + Pilesar
21st Century Ensemble
This Bag is not a Toy
Even Parker & Ned Rothenberg
David Daniell
Bicameral Mind
Janel & Anthony
Pekka Airaksinen
Luigi Archetti
ayyoko confidential
Jeff Carey
Tim Hecker
Gunter Hampel
Fckn Bstrds
Soft Pieces
Olivia Block+Tomas Korber
Never Work
Alexei Borisov & Anton Nikilla
Blue Sausage Infant
Dead Violets
Dr. Bibber
Second Land
Sean Peoples

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The Squid’s Ear Reviews

Der Jazz- und Experimentalmusiker Eugenen Chad...
Image via Wikipedia

From the Squid:

Kevin Blechdom / Eugene Chadbourne – The Chaddom Blechbourne Experience
– Kurt Gottschalk

Keiji Haino Keiji Haino – The 21st Century Hard-y Guide-y Man – Koitsukara Usetaitameno Hakaragito
– Kurt Gottschalk

Eugene Chadbourne / David Sait Eugene Chadbourne / David Sait – Auspicious Fish: Postage Paid Duets Vol. 1
(Apprise Records)
– Kurt Gottschalk

Mamoru Fujieda Mamoru Fujieda – Patterns of Plants II
– Kurt Gottschalk

Kazutoki Umezu Kiki Band Kazutoki Umezu Kiki Band – Alchemic Life
(Not Two Records)
– Kurt Gottschalk

Baghdassarians / Baltschun / Scherzberg / Thein Baghdassarians / Baltschun / Scherzberg / Thein – Ilinx
– Brian Olewnick

Alexander von Schlippenbach/Eddie Prevost Alexander von Schlippenbach/Eddie Prevost – Blackheath
– Brian Olewnick

“Blue” Gene Tyranny/Joel Ryan “Blue” Gene Tyranny/Joel Ryan – The Intermediary
(Lovely Music Ltd.)
– Brian Olewnick

Kim Cascone Kim Cascone – Music For Dagger And Guitar
(Aural Terrains)
– Max Schaefer

Kenneth Kirschner Kenneth Kirschner – Filaments & Voids
– Max Schaefer

Barnacled Barnacled – Charles
– Phil Zampino

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