domenica 3 agosto 2008

Vanessa Rosetto

Imperial brick
Whoresonin the wilderness

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Music Appreciation

One of the pleasures of following new music is when someone springs up out of the blue (at least, to you), almost fully formed, with no particular connection to any musicians or musical scene of which you were aware, if anything known only as an avatar on a discussion board. For this listener, that happy circumstance occurred in the case of Vanessa Rossetto, a violinist/violist/electronicist from Austin, Texas. These three discs were all recorded in 2007and, though not intended as a triptych of any sort, can easily be heard as such, and a mighty impressive one at that.

“misafridal” opens with some almost idle sounding flicking, presumably of a stringed instrument but abstracted enough to suggest almost any taut pieces of material, from plastic to paper. One of the first magical moments in this music occurs subsequently as rich, dark bowing from the viola enters quite unexpectedly, soon overlaid by field recording atmospherics, either out in the wind or inside some large enclosure, among which plaintive violin pluckings are briefly heard. It’s quite evocative and mysterious and sets the table perfectly for what follows as the music caroms between the impassioned string playing and the tapes. While she’ll occasionally, as near the beginning of the second track here, play rough-edged quasi-melodies, more often Rossetto fluctuates between freer playing inspired by musicians such as Polly Bradfield and Phil Wachsmann and low drones that recall Tony Conrad but with perhaps a greater emotive range. These drones constitute one of the deeper elements at play throughout the discs, often anchoring farther flung sounds though Rossetto is quite content to abide in a given area for an extended time, wringing out variation upon subtle variation. The third cut here, “eohippus” (Rossetto also has a way with titles), is gorgeous, all slightly splintered but relatively tonal, high-ish drones, one lapping at the heels of the next, with a soft rumble of something, perhaps a rogue field recording, maybe just ambient sound in the studio, beneath. As an album-length suite of sorts, it’s not perfect—the fourth track throws in a bit of a wrench with some accordion-like wheezing and disjointed, scrabbling string attacks, but on the whole it holds together beautifully, Rossetto varying both sound and structure within a seemingly narrow plane but achieving great breadth. The closing string piece (three or four overlaid, I think), returns to a fairly tonal character, a wonderful rumination that recalls, just a bit, the bluesy keening of the late Leroy Jenkins while also making reference to early minimalism.

The “middle” disc (they were in fact recorded in the order issued), “imperial brick”, consists of seven improvisations on the viola, all laid down on the same day. (One can sometimes make out ambient sound from outside the room, traffic and such, a very nice effect). Here, the connection with earlier free improvising string players is the strongest and this set can be heard as part of the entire tradition of solo performances in that vein, though still the strongest attractor seems to be that of the ornamented drone. As ever, it’s a difficult feat to pull off consistently and Rossetto wavers here and there but by and large holds matters together with a sure hand. Not that it’s technically flashy, but I admit to being a bit wowed every so often, unable to quite believe that a mere single viola was in use; I get the feeling she has chops to spare. My favorite cut is “The Girlhood of Baba Yaga”, once again a drone-centered improvisation, with coiling, smoky tendrils unfurling off the central spine. Though I don’t know his work terribly well, I was reminded a good bit of a fine solo concert I saw in Nancy several years ago by Malcolm Goldstein. There’s a similar latent romanticism in Rossetto’s playing, not woozy at all, but clear-eyed with a dash of harshness and possessed of a striking vocal quality. While I can’t say I’m the most knowledgeable fan of the genre (solo string improv), I do have very fond memories of seeing Jenkins playing alone at Washington Square Church in the late 70s, an amazing performance. This session, at its best, isn’t far short of that or the Goldstein.

But Rossetto saves the best for “last” with “whoreson in the wilderness”, a title out of Cormac McCarthy. It opens with a thrilling quartet (? I actually have no idea how many violins and violas are involved) that spirals up into a dizzying column of sound complete with what sounds like feedback. Indeed, that feedback initiates the next track, “myself with water”, in my opinion the finest track from these three discs and one of the single strongest pieces of music I’ve heard over the last year, period. An eruption of clatter ensues, soon embedded in that recurrent low, creamy drone, pulsing along at a relatively rapid pace. These, in turn, subside into a crystalline, delicate mesh of high arco and electronic tones, with metal scrapes weaving through, morphing into keening, birdlike wails. Specific sounds aside, the structure of pieces like this one is hugely convincing; more than once, in this respect, I was reminded of Olivia Block’s constructions, heady company to be sure. “stale cream moon” is more composed, a lovely mix of groaned low tones and march-like middle ones with a sorrowful, chorded middle plaint. The sawing grows more and more frantic on “impending shark music”, verging on derailment, Rossetto in full maximalist mode. She takes things out with a marvelous funnel of taped sounds and strings, an intense eddy of echoic, metallic swirls, those deep string drones and insectile chirps.

As I said above, very impressive work, beautifully conceived. It held my attention throughout and provided more than a few thrilling moments. Highly recommended.

Brian Olewnick

Misafridal link
Imperial brick link
Whoresonin the wilderness link

mercoledì 2 luglio 2008

Magazzini Criminali - Notti senza fine

"I Magazzini" is an acting company established in 1972 in Florence from Federico Tiezzi and Alessandro Lombardi. It's one of the most innovative acting company world-wide. As "Magazzini Criminali", the company did a contamination between theatre, cinema and music. Since 2001 he changed its name in "Compagnia Lombardi-Tiezzi".

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giovedì 29 maggio 2008

Mathias Spahlinger - Musica impura

Mathias Spahlinger is a fastidious composer of highly charged music. His music does recall Lachenmann, but he is not a Lachenmann drone or imitator (like many younger-generation German composers). Instead he reaches back to the music of Webern through ultra-condensed miniatures and a very economical manner of writing. When I first heard Spahlinger, I was totally unprepared for the visceral intensity of his music; unlike the restrained expressionism of his Second Viennese School ancestors, Spahlinger's music frequently boils over into violent noise. This music needs to be listened to very carefully. It is an exploration of monumental relevations of expression in a small, compact, terse, and very dense manner. Albeit not such a distinction, (

link 1

link 2

thanks avant-terrorist :)

domenica 11 maggio 2008

William Duckworth - The time curve preludes

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William Duckworth's Well-Tempered Clavier of minimalism. Elegant studies in proportion and sonority. Each prelude grows from a single rhythmic figure, uses modal harmonies, raga-style drones, and Medieval melodic outlines, and captures a particular but relatively brief mood, whether meditative, dance-like, or song-like. Duckworth's shifting, modal patterns unfold in a specially reverberant universe created by sustaining (with weights) certain of the keyboard's lowest notes. With pace and duration perfectly controlled, the preludes progress from sweetness to pungency with an elegiac inevitability.

Performer: Neely Bruce


1 Untitled (2:21)
2 Untitled (2:08)
3 Untitled (2:00)
4 Untitled (1:54)
5 Untitled (2:09)
6 Untitled (4:11)
7 Untitled (2:45)
8 Untitled (1:48)
9 Untitled (1:48)
10 Untitled (1:46)
11 Untitled (3:34)
12 Untitled (2:45)
13 Untitled (3:12)
14 Untitled (3:45)
15 Untitled (1:40)
16 Untitled (2:17)
17 Untitled (2:33)
18 Untitled (2:03)
19 Untitled (2:36)
20 Untitled (1:44)
21 Untitled (1:45)
22 Untitled (2:11)
23 Untitled (3:30)
24 Untitled (2:35)


giovedì 8 maggio 2008

Jani Christou - Symphony No. 1

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Jani Christou was born at Heliopolis, N.E. of Cairo on January 9th, 1926, of Greek parents. He was educated at the English School in Alexandria, and began composing at an early age. In 1945 he travelled to England to study formal logic and philosophy at Kingâs College, Cambridge under Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell (he attained an MA in philosophy in 1948). At the same time he studied music privately with H. F. Redlich, the distinguished musicologist and pupil of Alban Berg, and in 1949 travelled to Rome to study orchestration with F. Lavagnino. He also travelled widely in Europe, culminating for a short period in Zurich, where he met and attended lectures in psychology with Carl Jung. Christou's studies in psychology were greatly encouraged by his brother Evanghelos (himself a pupil of Jung) whom Christou considered his spiritual mentor and who exerted a strong influence on his creative thinking. Christou was deeply affected by his brother's death in 1956 as the result of a car accident, and it was Jani who arranged the posthumous publication of Evanghelos's book The Logos of the Soul.

He returned to Alexandria in 1951, and in 1956 he married Theresia Horemi a remarkable young painter from Chios who supported and assisted Christou in all his artistic and creative aspirations. Christou would compose for long hours at a stretch, and when not actually physically engaged in the act of composing would spend a great deal of time studying in his vast library of books and absorbing subjects from philosophy, anthropology, psychology, theology and comparative religions, history and pre-history through to occultism and art. Christou was as much a philosopher and metaphysician as he was a composer, and it is important to understand that all of his music sprang from his philosophical studies and theories. This is particularly so in the music covering the last ten years of his life, where his compositional techniques are at times transmuted beyond conventional music. In a series of Î130 Projectsâ (described by John G. Papaioannou as 130 metamusical, ritual works) Christou extends musical syntax to such a degree that the boundaries between music, theatre and everyday 'life', merge, coexist and sometimes become mutually independent one from the other: Anaparastasis III (The Pianist) for actor and instrumental ensemble and tapes (1968); Anaparastasis I, for baritone and instrumental ensemble (1968) and Enantiodromia are prime examples of this genre of Christou's late music. (

Symphony No. 1 for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1951)
Athens State Orchestra. Kitsa Damassiotou, mezzo-soprano. Conductor: Alec Sherman


Phoenix Music for Orchestra (1949)
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, conductor: Brad Lubman


giovedì 1 maggio 2008

Liz Allbee/Sharon Cheslow/Weasel Walter - Plants That Kill

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Liz Allbee is a voracious musician whose work spans many genres, including new music, improvisation, electronic composition, Asian folk and pop, noise, minimalist, free jazz and experimental rock. She has played with a wide array of musicians, including Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Cecil Taylor, Hans Grusel, Birgit Uhler, Alberto Braida, Fabrizio Spera, Gino Robair, Yugen Noh Theater, SFSound, and with members of Caroliner, Sun City Girls, and Rova. She lives in Oakland, CA.

1. dionaea muscipula
2. cephalotus follicularis
3. utricularia
4. nepenthes
5. prosopis
6. syzygium
7. quisqualis pubescens
8. dalmatian spurge
9. strophantus
10. convolvulus jalapa

genre: free improvisation

liz allbee - trumpet, electronics, conch shell, voice
sharon cheslow - guitar, electronics, objects, voice
weasel walter - drums, percussion


Nicolas Schöffer - Hommage À Bartók

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Genre: electronic, experimental, avant


Electronic Compositions
Chronosonor 1–2 (10:12)
Chronosonor 3 (9:53)
Chronosonor 5 (11:30)
Percussonor 1–2 (8:48)

Vittorio Gelmetti - Musiche elettroniche

Genre: electronic, experimental, contemporary classical, avantgarde

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Trendi D'Onda A Modulazione D'Intensità (10:40)
Modulazioni Per Michelangiolo (15:20)
Nous Irons A Tahiti (13:40)
Traumdeutung (10:10)
L'Opera Abbandonata Tace E Volge La Sua Cavità Verso L'Esterno (23:10)