Rand Steiger: Coalescence Cycle, Vol. 1

by Rand Steiger, International Contemporary Ensemble

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08:21
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09:35
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17:25
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about

Composer Rand Steiger releases the first volume chronicling his collaboration with the International Contemporary Ensemble, Coalescence Cycle. Volume 1 highlights works Steiger wrote for soloists in ICE (Claire Chase, Josh Rubin, Rebekah Heller, Kivie Cahn-Lipman, and Jacob Greenberg) that feature real time electronics processing, virtuosic writing tailored to the dedicatees of the works, and an approach to harmony that explores the intersection of tempered and just intonation material.

Rand Steiger’s “Coalescence Cycle” for musicians in the International Contemporary Ensemble reflects many of his aesthetic interests and priorities. Primary among these is an investigation of hybrid timbres, an exploration of the possibilities of live signal processing on virtuosic instrumental material, and a pitch vocabulary that includes tempered and just intoned intervals. Four of the works on this first volume are for single instrument and live processing, and the fifth is for flute, piano, and electronics, with all of the electronics performed by Steiger himself.

Steiger has worked closely with computer music pioneer Miller Puckette for many years, and the works on this recording are processed through a platform they developed within Puckette’s Pure Data software environment. Using this platform allows Steiger to experiment with spatialization, resonant filters, various delays and echoes, and harmonizations that tune processed material according to just intonation.

Cyclone for clarinet and live electronics, written for and performed by ICE founding clarinetist and former co-artistic director Joshua Rubin, was written in 2013 and inspired by the anomalous event of two tornadoes descending on Brooklyn, and also references the famous roller coaster in Coney Island. Steiger extends the cyclone metaphor into the musical structure of the piece, as the electronics sweep up the clarinet material into swirling echoes and cyclical loops.

Beacon was written for ICE founder, former executive director, and flutist Claire Chase, and is inspired by her leadership in the contemporary music field that has lit the way for so many other musicians. Steiger also extends the notion of “beacon” to the musical material, taking material from Varese’s iconic Density 21.5 which has been the basis of Chase’s multi-decade commissioning project, and “projecting” it out into a sonic environment shaped by live processing. Steiger then establishes a dialogue between the processed material, or the received message, and the live instrumentalist, weaving a haunting feedback loop as the electronics interact with the alternatively rhythmic and rhapsodic music coming from Chase’s flute.

Mourning Fog, performed here by ICE founding cellist Kivie Cahn-Lipman, is a work of melancholy reflection, written after Steiger suffered a personal loss. The electronics fulfill the function of enveloping the live cellist in a fog, with pitches reverberating in the acoustic space, and occasionally providing momentary contrapuntal support for the long expressive lines. Register becomes a key feature of this layering, as fundamental pitches that remain in the electronics are the basis for harmonic series expansion into the higher reaches of the instrument. As the work evolves, the density of the accompanimental electronics thickens, and Steiger bends and twists the floating harmonies. Swifter, emphatic cello passages mark the climactic minutes of the piece, before the texture returns to the singing character of the opening for an elegiac coda.

Light on Water, for piano, flute, and electronics, performed here by Chase and ICE founding pianist Jacob Greenberg, is a meditation on how light reflects off water and how that might be expressed in musical terms. Colorful pastels of harmony are articulated in trills in the piano and ascending figures in the flute. The electronics create a halo of delays that intensify the sense of reflection. After an accumulating rhythmic section, the flute arrives at a series of climactic high notes, a structural pillar articulating the gradual unfolding of the work. In the coda, we hear ripples of sound gently grazing the watery sonic surface.

About his work for bassoon and live electronics processing written for ICE bassoonist and current co-artistic director Rebekah Heller, Rand Steiger writes, “Concatenation revisits an approach I have explored in previous solo pieces that I call “nested etudes,” in which a set of contrasting materials, any one of which could have been the subject of an etude, are laid out and interwoven into a continuous conversation. In this piece, there are seven different kinds of material, each with a unique approach to signal processing.”

-D. Lippel

credits

released April 26, 2019

Track 1:

Recorded, December 2014; Studio A, UC San Diego
Josef Kucera and Andrew Munsey, engineers
Jacob Greenberg, producer

Edited, September 2018; Conrad Prebys Music Center, UC San Diego
Alexandria Smith, engineer
Jacob Greenberg and Rand Steiger, producers

Digital Signal Processing, September 2018; Del Mar, CA
Rand Steiger, engineer/producer

Mixed, September 2018; Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Ryan Streber, engineer
Jacob Greenberg and Rand Steiger, producers


Track 2:

Recorded, June 2016; Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, UC San Diego
Ulysses Nieto, engineer
Rand Steiger, producer

Edited, June 2016; Conrad Prebys Music Center, UC San Diego
Ulysses Nieto, engineer
Rand Steiger, producer

Digital Signal Processing, September 2018; Del Mar, CA
Rand Steiger, engineer/producer

Mixed, September 2018; Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Ryan Streber, engineer
Jacob Greenberg and Rand Steiger, producers


Track 3:

Recorded, December 2014; Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, UC San Diego
Josef Kucera, engineer
Jacob Greenberg, producer

Edited, May/June 2018; Studio A, UC San Diego
Andrew Munsey, engineer
Jacob Greenberg and Rand Steiger, producers

Digital Signal Processing, September 2018; Del Mar, CA
Rand Steiger, engineer/producer

Mixed, September 2018; Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Ryan Streber, engineer
Jacob Greenberg and Rand Steiger, producers


Track 4:

Recorded, December 2014; Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, UC San Diego
Josef Kucera and Andrew Munsey, engineers
Jacob Greenberg, producer

Edited, May/June 2018; Studio A, UC San Diego
Andrew Munsey, engineer
Jacob Greenberg and Rand Steiger, producers

Digital Signal Processing, September 2018; Del Mar, CA
Rand Steiger, engineer/producer

Mixed, September 2018; Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Ryan Streber, engineer
Jacob Greenberg and Rand Steiger, producers


Track 5:

Recorded, March 2015; Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Ryan Streber, engineer
Jacob Greenberg, producer

Edited, March 2017; Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Ryan Streber and Hansdale Hsu, engineers
Jacob Greenberg, producer

Digital Signal Processing, April 2017; Del Mar, CA
Rand Steiger, engineer/producer

Mixed, April 2017; Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Ryan Streber, engineer
Jacob Greenberg, producer

Final project mastered at Oktaven Audio, January 2019; Ryan Streber, mastering engineer

All music published by Rand Steiger Music (ASCAP)

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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) and composer Peter Gilbert in 2003, and features releases from many of new music's most active performers and composers. ... more

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