AMN Reviews: Allison Cameron & Contact – A Gossamer Bit [Redshift TK445]; Contact – Discreet Music [Cantaloupe CA21114]

Contact is a versatile, seven-piece new music ensemble based on Toronto, Canada. Founded by percussionist/composer Jerry Pergolesi, who also acts as musical director, the group has the outward appearance of a chamber orchestra, but the inner motivation and skill to cross genres and disciplines at will. Run almost like a rock band, the group draws on avant-garde and experimental art music, improvisation, conceptualism and more. Two recent releases show their fluency in different dialects of contemporary music.

(Full disclosure: I recently filled in at the last minute when visa difficulties prevented members of the ensemble from making a Washington area performance.)

A Gossamer Bit, issued in 2015, features four works by contemporary Canadian composer Allison Cameron. The four pieces are what might be called refigurative works—works that refigure, through adaptation, rewriting or chance reordering, formal or pitch material derived from pre-existing works, whether by Cameron or by others. They also incorporate a good deal of improvisation since, while their forms are fixed at the global level, they may call on performers to exercise a high degree of choice at the local level. For example D.I.Y. Fly, a piece based on the standard Fly Me to the Moon, has the performers play through multiple charts of the song in two different time signatures, each playing at his or her own pace. As a fragmented rhythm section, the guitar and bass maintain the structural integrity of the chord progression, even if only by rumor; at the same time the melody—recast as elongated tones–dissolves into free-floating planes of expansive notes. In Memoriam Robert Ashley refigures Ashley’s graphic score In Memoriam Esteban Gomez by appropriating the earlier work’s structure while changing its component elements. The order of events is specified, as are the pitch sets that make up their content, but the details of the realization—duration, phrasing, articulation, tempo and pitch set sequence—are left up to the performers. Given the instructions, the composition licenses multiple approaches; the pitch material conceivably can be realized as points, planes, or lines. No two performances will sound alike, particularly in terms of textural density. Contact’s realization for this recording is planar and elegiac, couched in somber, long tones intersecting in slow harmonic rhythm.

ca21114_contact_frontMoving from the improvised to the defined, Discreet Music is Contact, supplemented by guests on flute and gongs, playing Pergolesi’s arrangement of the Brian Eno ambient classic. Pergolesi was inspired by the Bang on a Can arrangement of Eno’s Music for Airports; it not only set the precedent of reworking Eno’s electronic ambient music for an acoustic chamber group, but “gave permission” to do so, as he puts it. Originally a work for looped tapes, Discreet Music is here orchestrated for winds, strings and percussion. Surprisingly, the timbres of the acoustic chamber ensemble evoke the timbres of the original piece. But the overall effect of the piece undergoes a subtle shift. Both by rearranging Eno’s two melodic lines as seven lines and pushing to the foreground music that originally was as happily enough ignored as listened to, Pergolesi brings out its harmonically unsettling ambiguity. Although individually bland, the motifs that make up the piece conflate tonic and dominant when overlapped and summed, leaving an odd tension that this arrangement brings into focus—call it the hidden drama of resolution deferred.

Both Discreet Music and A Gossamer Bit give evidence of a group tracing an imaginative path through the labyrinth of possibilities open to contemporary music.

http://www.redshiftmusic.org

http://www.cantaloupemusic.com

http://www.contactcontemporarymusic.org

Daniel Barbiero

Conversation with Brian Eno and Jon Hassell in Minneapolis

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis will host Eno and Hassell next month.

Legendary musician/composer/producer Brian Eno (Roxy Music, Talking Heads, U2, David Bowie, Devo) and renowned trumpeter/composer Jon Hassell (La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Peter Gabriel) continue a 30-year free-ranging dialogue—“making the world safe for pleasure/control and surrender/kinds of abstraction sickness/transcendence and intoxication: what sex, art, religion, music, and drugs have in common”—a discourse and collaboration, a lively conversation between two friends, between two brilliant minds.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Musique Machine Reviews

From Musique Machine:

Broken Arm Trio – Self Tited
Broken Arm Trio is a mainly up-beat and very bassy sounding jazz trio featuring Cellist Erik Friedlander(solo & various John Zorn related projects) who also composed all the tracks here, Trevor Dunn( Mr Bungle, solo work & various Zorn related projects, etc) and Michael Sarin on Drums.

Ascanio Borga – Xenomorphic
Ascanio Borga cut his teeth playing guitar in noise rock bands, evidence of which rears its head fairly early into Xenomorphic, his new disk on the under-recognized Afe label. The (title) track starts off in an ambient neo-Eno vein and then splits off into a thumping one chord metal riff. It’s only metal in relation to the guitar tone actually. If the tone was different it could pass for a Krautrock motif because of the stuttering, repetitive rhythm. Borga augments the guitar pattern with other guitar noises, sometimes gratuitous soloing, tasteful percussion and a bevy of granulated background sounds. There also seems to be some bass, which sounds like the real deal, though it’s getting increasingly more difficult to tell these days, with the advent of digital music programming. Borga has a musical background, and the painterly quality of the aforementioned title track makes this very evident. He starts the piece with noise, subtly piling on each element, slowly building forward momentum, the caps it off with the same noisy background which began it.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sonomu Reviews

From Sonomu:

Alio Die & Zeit, Raag Drone Theory (Hic Sunt Leones)
Zeit is Tommaso Cimò, who teams up with Alio Die for a single, fragile, meditative track glittering with notes dripping off their respective zithers, gradually shapeshifting for three seconds shy of the maximum capacity of a compact disc. Alio Die also plays psaltery and manipulates his… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 08:24, 14 Apr 2009

Alio Die & James Johnson, Cube 7: Suspensione D´Estate (Hic Sunt Leones)
As a project, “Cube Music” has been produced with a utilitarian purpose, in the grand tradition of the first self-proclaimed (and literally) ambient music, Brian Eno´s “music for airports”. Alio Die and Johnson´s intent is to have an effect on the architectural spaces inhabited by humanity during… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 08:21, 14 Apr 2009

K. Leimer, The Useless Lesson (Palace Of Light)
Seven tracks on his seventh effort (but our first encounter), a generous sixty-five minutes. “Constructed and deconstructed”, organized and reorganized. Leimer entertains the notion of juxtaposition as his aesthetic by interleafing sedate, string trio compositions with more “hybrid” electronica…. [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 07:44, 03 Apr 2009

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Eno’s “Music For Airports” Live Review

From Black Plastic Bag:

I’ll have more thoughts on yesterday’s Bang on a Can Marathon at the University of Maryland later, but the highlight of the day came early for me. Watching the Bang on a Can All-Stars perform a beautifully arranged version of Brian Eno’s Music For Airports was a real treat. This is not how Eno envisioned the music would be heard: it was not meant for live instrumentation, and was not meant to be listened to in a concert setting, with an audience sitting and watching the performers intently.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Mountains, The Human, Words For Snow in Syracuse

From Metropolis Underground:

Coming up April 17th is Thrill Jockey recording artists Mountains with special guests The Human and Words For Snow.

Mountains is Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, friends since their middle school days. The duo were brought together by mutual artistic and musical interests, and both ended up at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this time that they began exchanging musical ideas and compositions which led to them founding the Apestaartje label in 1999. As their collaborations and individual projects blossomed, they decided to create Mountains as a vehicle for live performance.

A love of sculpting sound in front of an audience is at the heart of Mountains. The group has 3 albums: their first self-titled release and second album Sewn were both on Apestaartje; the third, Choral, on Thrill Jockey. Mountains is often compared to artists such as Brian Eno and Fennesz, citing their extended melodies and their unique broad guitar work. Mountains seamlessly blend pastoral electronic sounds with field recordings and a plethora of acoustic instruments. The resulting soundscapes are broad in scope and rich in detail. The effect is incredibly sublime and hypnotic as the sounds slowly wrap themselves around each other and alter themselves in the mind of the listener. Choral, their third album, is a uniquely soothing and addicting listening experience and an aural crazy quilt: warm and inviting with many details to discover and explore.

thrilljockey.com/artists/index.html?id=11985staartje.com

The Human is the electro-pop side project from Beauty Scene Outlaws fromtman Norm Wilson. Once a year The Human puts together a stellar band to back him for an evening of electro/synth pop bliss.

http://www.myspace.com/humanape

Words For Snow is the new ambient experimental project from Beauty Scene Outlaw guitarist Mike ((P)) and ORaa / Autumn In Halifax guitarist Scott Oliver. They will be debuting tracks (with special guest Chris Reeg) from their self titled debut CD (available the night of the show).

Donations will be $5-$10

Show starts at 8:30pm

  • Updates (metropolisunderground.wordpress.com)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Bang on a Can Marathon in DC Area

From Black Plastic Bag:

For the past few years, the annual Bang on a Can Marathon in New York City has had my mouth watering, juxtaposing performances of fascinating and often under-performed avant-garde classical music with shows by cutting-edge popular music performers (and generally blurring the line between these two categories). Last year’s festival, for instance, featured compositions by Harrison Birtwistle and Terry Riley alongside performances by Marnie Stern and Dan Deacon.

This Sunday, the D.C. area is in for a treat as a scaled-down version of the festival occupies the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center for an afternoon and evening (from 2pm until about 9pm). A free performance of Brian Eno’s famed Music For Airports is among the attractions, along with performances of compositions by Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche (some of which D.C. concertgoers may have seen when Kotche performed a solo set at the Black Cat back in 2006). A lengthy Terry Riley piece, with Riley himself on vocals and piano, closes out the event.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Newsbits

Blues in Space is a heavy avant-rock group from New York worth a listen or two. Luup is an experimental group from Greece. Pavonine has a new ambient release out for free download. Locrian is an experimental duo with influences including John Cage, Suffocation, Glen Branca, power tools, Brian Eno, Obituary, Stockhausen, broken records, sirens, empty buildings, television static, Throbbing Gristle, air through vents, mouth breathers, field recordings. Esa Pietila has a new release coming out soon.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Shows Coming to Metropolis Underground

Before and after Science album cover
Image via Wikipedia

From Syracuse’s Metropolis Underground:

Kevin Norton’s Counterpoint will be here on 2/21 @ 8pm. Kevin always puts on a great show and should not be missed.

The following night we will have four experimental acts: Beach Fuzz, Century Plants, Dead Friends and American Sphinx.

Updates:

April 17th – Mountains, The Human and TBA

Mountains is Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, friends since their middle school days. The duo were brought together by mutual artistic and musical interests, and both ended up at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this time that they began exchanging musical ideas and compositions which led to them founding the Apestaartje label in 1999. As their collaborations and individual projects blossomed, they decided to create Mountains as a vehicle for live performance. A love of sculpting sound in front of an audience is at the heart of Mountains. The group has 3 albums: their first self-titled release and second album Sewn were both on Apestaartje; the third, Choral, on Thrill Jockey. Mountains is often compared to artists such as Brian Eno and Fennesz, citing their extended melodies and their unique broad guitar work. Mountains seamlessly blend pastoral electronic sounds with field recordings and a plethora of acoustic instruments. The resulting soundscapes are broad in scope and rich in detail. The effect is incredibly sublime and hypnotic as the sounds slowly wrap themselves around each other and alter themselves in the mind of the listener. Choral, their third album, is a uniquely soothing and addicting listening experience and an aural crazy quilt: warm and inviting with many details to discover and explore.

I’ll add more info as it comes my way.

We’ve also added Tom Carter and Sabir Mateen to the Summer schedule.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]