SEAMUS releases its 29th and newest volume in the Music from SEAMUS series with this recording of music by Elliott Lupp, Elainie Lillios, Alex Christie, Ioannis Andriotis, Chris Lortie, Nicole L. Carroll, Panayiotis Kokoras, and Per Bloland.
Elliott Lupp’s Hinge for hammered-dulcimer and electronics uses the instrument’s conventional and extended timbral properties as a basis for an enhanced sound world that pushes beyond its typical boundaries. Lupp bows the dulcimer, combining those sustained sounds with live processing, pitched and non-pitched percussive material. To facilitate a responsive relationship between the electronics and performer, Lupp incorporates improvisatory elements into the notation. Quick, searing crescendos lead into dense industrial cacophonies; pointillistic pitches evoke water droplets falling from a not quite closed faucet.
Elainie Lillios’s Undertow for bass clarinet and electronics, performed here by Derek Emch, opens with two alternating multiphonics, first articulated in a sustained context and then accelerating into a trill. As Lillios introduces new sets of pitches, we hear subtle ambient responses in the electronics before accented attacks make the responsive nature of the electronics more explicit. As the texture becomes more active, Lillios expands the pitch and timbral vocabulary, but the primacy of the initial oscillating idea in the performance remains.
In its original version, Alex Christie’s mouthfeel is a multimedia piece for voice, megaphone, and light bulbs, reinterpreted here for audio alone. An insistent pulse akin to the sound of a timer lurks behind tinkering, metallic sounds and glitchy electronic sounds. After a pause midway through the piece, the pace of the material quickens, culminating in an immersive texture which introduces the first discrete pitch material in the work.
Ioannis Andriotis’ Vocem features a wide ranging amplified alto flute part largely shaped by pitched whisper tones and breathing sounds. Opening with vocalizations processed through a series of delays, Andriotis moves towards motivic material expressed in pitch. The electronics envelop the live flute with echoes of the performed material as well as contrasting timbral responses, such as bells and synthetic sounds.
Jouska, as defined by John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows that chronicles made up terms, is a “hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head…which serves as a kind of psychological batting cage…” In his work Jouska, Chris Lortie establishes an often humorous dichotomy between violently cathartic noise textures between violin and electronics and saccharine passages of Romantic music for violin and keyboard.
Nicole L. Carroll’s Orrery Arcana is both the piece heard on this recording as well as a system Carroll designed for real-time performance that involves custom software and a self-made hardware controller. Mapping various audio parameters onto data from NASA’s lunar research, a system in W.B. Yeats’ A Vision, and the numerology of Tarot cards, Carroll uses her customized performance system to perform a work compiled from analog synthesizers and environmental field recordings.
Of his work Qualia, Panayiotis Kokoras writes, “The composition explores the experiences of music from perception to sensation; the physical process during which our sensory organs — those involved with sound, tactility, and vision in particular — respond to musically organized sound stimuli.” A repetitive two note motive opens the work, around which we hear police sirens in the background, accelerating and decelerating pulsations, and swooping figures as if from a falling firecracker. Kokoras deftly combines these different sounds into hybrid textures, building complex phase structures from the components. By combining disparate sounds that have extra-musical associations, Kokoras manages to disentangle them from their sonic associations.
Per Bloland’s Los murmullitos is inspired by a novel by Mexican author Juan Rulfo from the 1950’s in which a man returns to a town where his parents lived, to find it having fallen into decay. Los murmullitos opens with an insistent rhythm in the low register of the piano as the electronics accumulate around it. When the repetitive figure moves to the high register, it is occasionally broken up by virtuosic flourishes. The work alternates between these two impulses, stubborn intensity and athletic dynamism.
Leah Reid’s Sk(etch) explores sounds, gestures, and timbres associated with sketching, drawing, writing, and composing. We hear the sounds of paper being cut and torn and lines being drawn, traced, and erased. Reid manipulates the temporal frame of these sounds, speeding them up, layering them, and placing them into a context of an unfolding musical logic.
For his work, Medical Text p. 57, Nathaniel Haering used texts from the educational volume Cyclopedia of Practical Medicine Vol. 1 published in 1845, specifically passages related to the impact of age on the body throughout different stages of life. Haering mixes phonemes and consonants with complete words, teasing the listener to try and assemble the meaning of a full phrase, while linking the halting sound of vocal utterances and extended techniques with a rich vocabulary of similar timbres in the electronics.
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