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loadbang: Quiver

by loadbang

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loadbang’s newest release Quiver, their fourth on New Focus, features a collection of works commissioned from composer colleagues as well as music by three members, Jeffrey Gavett, Carlos Cordeiro, and Andy Kozar. The aesthetics represented display the broad range of territory loadbang commands, from finely integrated textures that blur where one instrument begins and the other ends, to individuated passages that revel in contrapuntal symbiosis.

Opening the album is Quinn Mason’s somber Aging, a setting of a text by Adam Lefaivre that meditates on getting older. The diatonic harmonies and a noticeable absence of extended techniques start the recording with an earnest quality. The vulnerability of the text is mirrored in its straightforward presentation. The ensemble reasserts its commitment to sonic experimentation immediately afterward, in Heather Stebbins’ bracing title track. Stebbins was deeply affected by a trip to a national park in Iceland, where she experienced landscapes shaped by the powerful geologic forces of tectonic plates grinding against each other. Quiver, while not attempting to translate those ideas into sound in a direct way, mines this paradigm for its sonic vocabulary. In Stebbins’ work, as in sensitive natural ecosystems, all the elements are interrelated, a click in the trumpet triggers a pop in the trombone, a breathy articulation in the clarinet catalyzes a sighing gesture in the voice.

Poet Fernando Pessoa is the source of inspiration for Carlos Cordeiro’s Disquiet - not just his writing, but more specifically the speculation that he may have had multiple personality disorder. Cordeiro structures the work around these separate identities, as the ensemble shifts characters and ways of functioning internally. A geometric architecture of sonic pistons fires in the opening, leading into a fragile chorale of blended sonorities in the second section. The third section is unstable and manic, and the fourth features a cryptic text read responsively with disembodied accompaniment that gradually grows more and more unhinged.

In performances of Zong Yun We’s Flower, the members of the quartet are spread out through the venue, creating intentional ambiguity surrounding the source and location of the beguiling sounds in the score. Waves of pitch emerge from the composite purring texture established in the ensemble through non-pitched elements. The piece ends with an ethereal series of ascending scales, like light plumes of smoke trailing away into the atmosphere.

Both of loadbang baritone Jeffrey Gavett’s two works look to artists of the past for source material. Proverbial is a multi-language setting framed by an excerpt from English Romantic poet William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In Blake’s recasting, Heaven is a repository for passive obeisance and Hell for energetic agency, and Gavett’s settings are relentless and severe, an auditory challenge to complacency. Using material from a Flemish Renaissance motet, Absalon fili mi, quis det ut layers upon itself like a complex palimpsest, echoes of the original motet heard through a distorting prism.

Andy Kozar’s two settings of short stories by Lydia Davis are musical examinations of the nature of communication. “Insomnia” places the vocal part at odds with the instrumentalists, especially the trombone, who consistently interrupts the text. The oscillating minor second and unison intervals that pervade the track capture the unsettling feeling of sleeplessness perfectly. In “Odd Behavior,” the instruments shadow the rhythm of the stuttering vocal part with chord clusters, eerily circling around the text phrases, drawing the listener inside the neurotic inner world of the protagonist.

Chaya Czernowin’s IRRATIONAL maximizes loadbang’s capacity to act as one hybrid instrumental organism, savoring select moments when the individual instruments split off and assert their individuality. Opening with a brief unison fanfare, Czernowin quickly neutralizes the pitch landscape by turning to a vocabulary of breath sounds and an unstable trumpet glissando, like the singing of a tea kettle left to boil. The unisons of the opening fanfare return (now transposed up a minor ninth) for a kinetic section of hocketed rhythms and articulations. The ensemble’s timbres are truly fused in subsequent sections of static, murky music featuring throat singing and growling clarinet multiphonics. IRRATIONAL comes full circle, ending on a disjunct passage of unisons passed through the group, the same pitch which opened the piece, now up an octave.

- Dan Lippel


released August 26, 2022

loadbang (Jeffrey Gavett, baritone voice; Andy Kozar, trumpet; Will Lang, trombone; Adrian Sandi, bass clarinet [tracks 1 and 9], Carlos Cordeiro, bass clarinet [tracks 2,3,4,5,6,7,8])

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio
Artwork by Alek Eckman-Lawn




New Focus Recordings New York, New York

New Focus Recordings is an artist led collective label featuring releases in contemporary music of many stripes, as well as new approaches to older repertoire. The label was founded by guitarist Daniel Lippel (who is the current director), composer engineer Ryan Streber, and composer Peter Gilbert in 2003-4, and features releases from many of new music's most active performers and composers. ... more

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