We've updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.


by Eren Gümrükçüoğlu

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $10 USD  or more


Pandemonium 04:28
Pareidolia 23:34
Bozkir 09:20
Xanthos 07:16


Eren Gümrükçüoglu’s compositional world fuses unique timbres with gestural instrumental writing to craft a kind of abstract sonic cinema. There is a symphonic quality to many of these works despite their scoring for ensembles seven players and smaller, with orchestration and color occupying an essential role in Gümrükçüoglu’s writing. Equally influential is Gümrükçüoglu’s background in modern jazz, which presents itself not so much in full garb, but obliquely, in refracted form, coloring the rhythmic and harmonic material at pivotal moments and shaping his process for generating material.

The album opens with Pandemonium for fixed media electronic sounds that are sourced from a recording Gümrükçüoglu made of the Duke University music department elevator, where he did his PhD work. Gümrükçüoglu establishes a three dimensional soundscape, using spatialized sweeps and timbral events to conjure a mechanized drama of timbral relationships. Discrete pitch takes a secondary role to register, sound color, and contour as we hear an audio snapshot that is reminiscent of a dystopian, futuristic factory environment. For this work, Pareidolia, and Asansör Asimptotu, Gümrükçüoglu designed an improvising computer program, providing sound files and setting parameters, and then selected and assembled materials from the results to create the electronics that we hear on the final track.

Pareidolia, for string quartet, clarinet/tenor saxophone, percussion/drum set, piano/synthesizer, and fixed media (drawn from the same elevator recording) shares Pandemonium’s charged, kinetic rhythmic interplay, exploring various permutations of pairings between instruments and electronics. Urgent, reflex driven rhythms ricochet through the ensemble. Disembodied sustains contain hauntingly complex multiphonics and eerie clusters. Occasionally the texture coagulates into extended passages of rhythmic regularity anchored by the drum set, such as the simmering groove at the five minute mark, the insistent pointillistic passage at 9:30, the furious moto perpetuo that comes into focus at 16:45, or the climactic material at 21:15 that leads to a scrambling, syncopated texture. Duos between piano and electronics and saxophone and electronics provide structural contrast, and focus the listener’s attention more immediately on the expressive quality of Gümrükçüoglu’s electronic palette. While the saxophone part includes improvisation on the materials of the piece, the other parts are through composed but retain an improvisatory quality, highlighting Gümrükçüoglu’s deft ability to compose material that sounds nevertheless spontaneous. Pareidolia ends with undulating swells in the strings, as the saxophone floats over the top with unstable multiphonics and gravelly figuration.

The two string quartet alone works included on the album, both performed by the Mivos String Quartet, highlight Gümrükçüoglu’s ability to tease longer lines from fragmentary material as well as the influence of Turkish makams. Bozkir, which means “steppes,” opens with intense, emerging swells swirling around a central pitch, before settling into an off-balance groove of hocketed pointillistic attacks that circle through the quartet. A distorted cantus firmus emerges from the resultant arrival pitches. Near the work’s mid-point the forward energy pauses to explore a more static texture of ethereal sustained tones and tremolos. When we finally hear an extended, non-truncated ensemble melody emerge towards the end of the piece, it is heard shrouded in closely spaced clusters. Xanthos is awash in colorful microtonal relationships, painting the poignant sighs and kinesthetic swoops in the instrumental writing with shades of flavor. An extended pizzicato passage unfolds like a charming pas de deux (or perhaps de quatre), the four instruments shadowing each other’s attacks to form a percolating emerging melody.

Ordinary Things features a fixed media part including excerpts of speeches given by the authoritarian leader of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The ensemble of clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion, violin, and double bass shadows the cadence of the spoken recording, with the group functioning as a sort of sardonic Greek chorus, egging on and mocking the impassioned rhetoric. A reflective instrumental interlude in the middle of the piece seems to hint at the cadence of political march music, with slow siren sounds winding through the texture. Despite the satirical framing of Erdoğan as a bombastic megalomaniac, the expressive impact of Ordinary Things is ominous — biting humor, unfortunately, will not be enough to transform this dark trend in our global politics.

Like Bozkir, Lattice Scattering for flute, piano, and fixed media develops its compositional argument with urgent, frenetic rhythmic activity. It is constructed as a trio between the two acoustic instruments and the electronics, where the electronic sounds lend a timbral multi-dimensionality to the texture. Dense fields of sound across registers create a counterpoint of simultaneous activity.

On the final electronics alone track on the album, Asansör Asimptotu, sounds careen like pistons firing through the spatialized stereo field. A disjunct groove evolves with glitches and starts, gradually traveling through a series of shifting environments. Gümrükçüoglu subjects the material to successive layers of distortion and transformation, nearly obscuring its identity entirely before the opening idea seems to reemerge briefly for the close of the piece.

– Dan Lippel


released October 14, 2022

All music composed by Eren Gümrükçüoğlu (ASCAP), published by BabelScores, Paris

Performers: JACK Quartet (tracks 1 and 2), Conrad Tao (tracks 1 and 2), Zulfugar Baghirov (tracks 1 and 2),
Thom Monks (tracks 1 and 2), Mivos Quartet (tracks 3 and 6), Deviant Septet (track 4), Ensemble Suono Giallo (track 5)

Recording Engineers: Eren Gümrükçüoğlu (tracks 1, 3, 7), Rick Nelson (tracks 2, 4, 6), David Giacchè (track 5)

Mixing Engineer: Eren Gümrükçüoğlu
Mastering Engineer: Murat Çolak

Produced by: Eren Gümrükçüoğlu

Cover Design: Bora Tekoğul

Cover Photograph: United States Geological Survey




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

contact / help

Contact New Focus Recordings

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like Pareidolia, you may also like: