AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Eren Gümrükçüoglu – Pareidolia [New Focus Recordings fcr343]

“Pareidolia” describes the condition of seeing meaningful patterns—in, e.g., the grain of a wood panel or the shape of a cloud formation—where none have been put there. It’s a well-chosen title for a collection of music by the Turkish-born, Florida-based composer Eren Gümrükçüoglu, whose music tends toward the assembly of rapidly changing yet cohesive patterns from seemingly random sounds and gestures. Fittingly, the album’s twenty-three minute long title track epitomizes the approach. The piece is scored for string quartet, fixed media, and performers doubling on clarinet and tenor saxophone, piano and synthesizer, and percussion and drumkit. The basic material is made up of fragmentary surges and abrupt bursts of sound coalescing and dispersing in an unpredictable series of instrumental combinations. A low-density middle section for piano, electronics, and vibraphone falls on the pointillistic side of Gümrükçüoglu’s pattern creation, while the concluding passages embrace denser textures and more assertive dynamics. The two string quartets Bozkir and Xanthos, both performed by the Mivos Quartet, bring two variations to the basic schema. Bozkir is organized around a focal tone and rhythmically-charged shards of melody that are passed around the four strings, while Xanthos features a textural and startling timbral diversity balancing on the fulcrum of a long, purely pizzicato passage.

Pareidolia also includes Lattice Scattering for piano, flute, and fixed media; Ordinary Things for fixed media and small chamber ensemble, and opening and closing tracks for fixed media generated by a computer program improvising sound structures from an input of recordings made of an elevator.

Daniel Barbiero