Best of Best of 2009

I’ve already said my piece on the best of 2009, but here is an opportunity to present the opinions of others. Over the last month or so, I’ve collected some of the more interesting and relevant “best of” lists, that focus on music likely to be within the AMN scope.

So, welcome to the best of the best of 2009.

The Village Voice
Howard Mandel
NPR’s Take Five.
Jason Crane
Music and More
Stuart Broomer
Susanna Bolle
Laurence Donohue-Greene
Derek Taylor
Adam Strohm
Nate Chinen
Ben Ratliff
Francios Couture
Destination Out
Jim Macnie
Brett Saunders

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23five Releases

From 23five:

Jason Kahn
Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point is a 47 minute composition, which Kahn has dedicated to his daughter who died shortly before Kahn began working on this piece in 2007. For all of the phenomenological studies and stoic mesmerism attributed to much of his catalogue, Vanishing Point is a subtle and hypnotic elegy for rattling metals, timbral vibration, gossamer static, hissing field recordings, and those aforementioned colored noises. Soon into the piece, Kahn introduces a flickered ghost of melody whose luminous tones manifest ever so slightly against his contrails of noise. The upper register hiss and statics of these layered noises slowly drop in pitch and frequency over the duration of the piece, revealing subharmonic rumblings and an oceanic current that tugs at the agitated textures of Kahn’s surface noises. This glacial, minimalist shift renders Vanishing Point elegant and meditative.

Tarab
Take All the Ships from the Harbour, and Sail them Straight into Hell

The title to this album from Tarab is striking enough in its allusions of damnation, with a watery grave a potential outcome from human activity impacting the earth. So, it may be stating the obvious that the corroded locations where mankind has scarred the surface of the earth feature prominently in the work of this Melbourne based sound artist. The residual elements of these sites become the agents for metaphor and allegory in Tarab’s work, documented through field recording and sympathetic actions with found objects from those sites. Tarab unveils as revolving series of exaggerated details from a hyperbolic gash of two heavy pieces of metal grinding against themselves to a toxic chorale of nighttime insects to sand, wind, and surf detourned into sedimentary white noise. Tarab’s compositional sensibility shifts throughout the album, at first sparsely situating these sounds into shadowy vignettes. Gradually, Tarab coalesces this sublime opus into an arcing crescendo which exhibits sustained harmonics rarely heard in the best of the contemporary dronemusik technicians much less from the realm of sound ecology.

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Metal Rouge, Mesa Ritual in Albuquerque

From the Spectre Series:

“Métal Rouge is a duo unit, originally formed in New Zealand between Andrew Scott and Helga Fassonaki, now residing in the sea between–concerned primarily with pure thoughtless formless now and its expression through sound.”

http://www.myspace.com/metalrouge

Mesa Ritual is the duo of Raven Chacon and William Fowler Collins. If you caught the duo at the Robb Trust Composers’ Symposium show here at ARTS Lab earlier this month then you’ll recall low frequency electronics that shook the architecture, layered field recordings played at a whisper and towering, multicolored walls of sound.

When: Saturday, May 09, 9:00 PM
Where: ARTS Lab Digital Media Garage. 131 Pine Street NE, Albuquerque
Map: http://artslab.unm.edu/where.html
How much: $5-10 suggested donation goes to the artists.

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New Releases From Cold Blue Music

The latest from Cold Blue Music:

Christopher Roberts – Trios for Deep Voices

Five intimate movements/pieces for a trio of double basses performed by the composer and two other virtuosos of the instrument, Mark Morton and James Bergman.

This music, much of it inspired by the composer’s life in Papua New Guinea, where he studied music’s “natural prosody,” subtly extends the double bass’s standard playing techniques with such expressive elements as bowing patterns inspired by the sound of hornbills in flight. (More info …)

Chas Smith – Nakadai

Nakadai, which KPFA Folio/Other Minds Radio called “one of the most explosive LPs of the ’80s,” is a set of works that offer a catalog of musical “waves”—from ripples to tsunamis. It features Smith playing pedal steel guitar solo, overdubbed, and with a mallet percussion quartet of Bob Fernandez, John Fitzgerald, M.B. Gordy, and Theresa Knight. This first CD reissue of Nakadai allows today’s listeners to hear prototypical Smith—music composed when his present style was in its nascent state.

In addition to the original five Nakadai tracks, this release includes two “bonus” tracks: 2008’s evocative Ghosts on the Windows and 1991’s Joaquin Murphey, a tribute to the pedal steel elgend of the same name.

Daniel Lentz – Point Conception

This CD combines Lentz’s wild nine-piano tribute to the octave, Point Conception (originally issued as a Cold Blue LP in the mid-80s), with Lentz’s previously unrecorded NightBreaker, a kaleidoscopic and explosive tour de force for four pianos.

An exciting roller-coaster of a work, NightBreaker ambles, jumps, careens, pauses, and flings itself forward. Point Conception amasses and bubbles over with incessant streams of octaves (harmonic and melodic) running the length of the keyboard. Both pieces revel in and comment on late-19th-century harmonies and harmonic motion.

Through overdubbing via a “cascading echo system,” long-time Lentz Ensemble pianist Arlene Dunlap performs all of Point Conception’s parts. Likewise, through overdubbing, noted Los Angeles pianist Bryon Pezzone performs all of NightBreaker’s parts.

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