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by Lee Weisert

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Recesses II 15:05


Composer Lee Weisert releases his second album on New Focus, Recesses, a follow up to the 2014 release, Wild Arc. Weisert is heard on piano, guitar, percussion, and electronics, and is joined by collaborators violinist Nicholas DiEugenio, vocalist Melissa Martin, saxophonist Matthew McClure, and Allen Anderson and Jonathon Kirk contribute additional electronics.

Lee Weisert’s "Recesses" inhabits a rarefied sonic world, marrying the quickly shifting timbres of the electronic world with an undercurrent of introspection that characterizes our interaction with it. He establishes immersive environments, lulling the listener into a tacit acceptance of an ambient reality, before removing the sound features in that environment and shifting the ground under the listener. The album exists in a series of dream states, but they project the quality of non-organic reverie, an alternate fantasy world that is ultimately framed not by the heat of subconscious emotion but by the coolness of a motherboard. The local moments are poignant and evocative, while Weisert’s deft instinct for assembling them into a collage of captivating ephemeralities gives the album as a whole its beguiling quality.

The opening track, "Recesses I Part I", merges a series of granulated modular synthesis textures with washes of diatonic sound. Vocal samples of children’s voices, ethereal string harmonics, airy chords on a Fender Rhodes and melodic gestures on electric guitar ebb and flow in a hypnotizing fashion. We hear brief allusions to Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turka and excerpts of orchestral strings as if we are slowly traversing the radio dial. Sustained tones undulate to the fore and back again before Weisert introduces a watery piano motif.

"Recesses I Part II" opens with a multi-dimensional texture, as sustained tones crescendo over spoken vocal samples, while a harmonic halo gradually expands. A sudden cut takes us into more granulated territory, with glitchy scrapes accompanying a repetitive arpeggiated figure in the piano. Modal material frames much of the middle of the movement, with liquid harmonies floating over white noise pads and shrouded recordings of speech. Weisert emphasizes static, disjunct sounds for the remainder of the track, returning us to the broken collage of Part I.

The opening of "Recesses II" focuses on hybrid timbres, assembling miniature symbiotic machines of sound envelopes that connect with each other. Weisert finds wonderful complementary sound combinations, balancing finely grained timbres with breathy sustained pads. Matthew McClure’s saxophone interjects with brief, skittering figures. Midway through the work, we hear a series of electronic pitches reminiscent of modem login sounds from the early days of the internet. Weisert leans into these digital sounds momentarily before reintroducing the haunting pads. The complex, fused timbres return towards the end of the work, with the electric guitar providing the melodic thread.

"Similar Speeds" opens with simultaneous attacks on pitched percussion that incrementally phase and separate into arpeggiations, each with its own distinct rhythmic profile. At certain inflection points, rhythmic unisons are achieved momentarily before attacks become out of phase once again. At times, the texture evokes a gamelan orchestra, with a multidimensional profile of foreground, middle ground, and background elements.

Lee Weisert’s music on this recording balances meticulously designed timbres and intuitively driven structure. He has cultivated a sound world that moves seamlessly between diverse textures, allowing each to evolve as its own micro ecosystem. His collaborators violinist Nicholas Eugenio, saxophonist Matthew McClure, vocalist Melissa Martin, and electronic musicians Allen Anderson and Jonathon Kirk provide Weisert material that is invested with the necessary local meaning and pathos to spin into his extended sound canvasses. Recesses manages to do what many albums strive for and fall short of, express an album wide affect from a wide, diverse palette of material.

- Dan Lippel


released April 21, 2023

Recording and Mixing by Lee Weisert

Mastered by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio

Album art by Tama Hochbaum

Design by Marc Wolf, marcjwolf.com




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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