Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jeff Kowalkowski's Review of Concert #68

The following are some impressions I had while listening.

Alan Tormey's "Delaytude" created a relaxed environment at the Green Mill to start the concert. Minor suspension-chords, Frisell, Metheny, Fripp, 80s sound, portrait palindrome, a mesmerizing performance, an infinite feel to the gentle ostinati, beautiful chords and arpeggios.

"From here on out sweetness is banned."

hans w. koch:
Modest level feedback. "We are not at Woodstock here." Random generator Max selects frequencies and applies pitch shifts, "if the alchemy works it can be very beautiful." Huge texture from a very simple, small patch-up, huge frequency range, difference tones, sounds that probably sounded similar in 1960. I had a memory of leaving my room after casually placing my guitar on top of my amp, returning to a gentle bell-like tone welling up like a ghost. You might call it an "ah-ha" moment for a composer. Koch's conception, with it's unexpected triggers, random clusters of complex frequencies; in this environment a slight shift of position results in a completely new and unexpected section of the piece.

The Huge variety of thick robotic textures created by a guitar face-up on a practice amp impressed me. Crispy-crunch fuzz toneMax-patch as score. If--then. No duration specified. All performances are slightly different, and sound installation and performance are wonderfully blurred and confused.

Seth Cluett
One-inch speaker in sound hole, harmonics, open strings, edge of audibility, loud environment, ambient Green Mill makes the piece more surreal, (beautiful) soft little tones sustained from within the guitar. Ancient plucks harmonic, dyads/sine-tone swells, koto, Feldman's pacing, vast, delicate, disciplined economy of materials, mute string, bounce harmonics, 8 second pauses, the audience begins to count the talea and pulsate in a glacial unison.

Gavin Bryars' texts for the back of the mind seem similar to an idea found in SATIE. For example in his piano music you find notes like "white and motionless" or "think about yourself" and "too proud." In Bryars' work table Guitars are used a as keyboards, playing long chains of lower-neighbor walking patterns. Bryars' music is minimalist meeting post-minimalist, neo-romantic, re-inventor, (like Miles). If it has not been done yet, I think this piece should be adapted for Chapman Stick or Stick(s).

Morton Feldman

"The strings (of the electric guitar) are constituted in such a different way than the other instruments that the pitch goes into another domain whatsoever."

This "reenactment" of Christian Wolff's version from the late 60s was the highlight of the program. Especially impressive was the comparison between the reenactment and the "buffed-up" modern transcription by Josel played on a completely different guitar and amp. I absolutely love hearing pieces twice in a row, and it reminded me of what Ralph Shapey used to do with the Contemporary Chamber Players, they would repeat premieres, so we could hear all the splendor of the music a second time after the initial shock wears off, and you can concentrate on finer details.

This Feldman "score" conjures such a meloncholy sound for me that I do not know of any other music like it. The loveliness of a fender tube amp sounding a single pitch; economy of means is brought to a new level with Feldman. Much of this music is monophonic, the timbre of cello glissandi, electrified, paced into vast slow patterns and shapes. A mountainous ascent up the modified harmonic series lifts the listener to higher realms of perception.

All of this metaphysical music making would not be possible wihout the depdth of dedication and soulfulness of Seth's guitar playing. As pianist Dimitri Paperno would say, "he has convinced me."

---A dramaturgical line to Christian Wolff---

In Christian Wolff's prose works, the musicians are given directions, and the duration is open. "Play" was the commentary piece within this program. The impeccable ability of Seth and Julia as improvisers/interpreters, showed dynamic extremes, perfectly sloppy gestures that shocked me at times. Where does this aural image originate? At times the duo seemed to be intentionally competing for the same registral segment. There was nothing "polite" about this rendition, and that is why I found it satisfyingly cathartic.

High altissimo solo angelico, water drops below, guitar tones rhyme with cash register, and loud people giggling at the bar, the clink of the glasses enter the vocabulary. Randomizing improvisatory motions, similar to Meredith Monk's "Paris"
(1970). Smack and rub with bottle-neck, slide and table guitar truly played. We hear the importance of the click and buzz, faulty pickups, metallic sounds, the modern harp is the electric guitar.

32 E-bow samples with added voices live, VIDEO (do we need it Mr. Niblock?):
Woman pulling bricks from barrow to barge, fisherman's mesh, shoveling shrimp and fish from wicker baskets, e-bows throb, room shakes, difference tones, roofer repairs the thatch roof, balancing with tiles, vast garden-plucking greens--compost shredder, shredding grain, as a listener I feel as if I am experiencing turbulent lurches on a plane in mid-flight, the minor-ninth interval, swoozy nausea to enjoy.

All the field workers have blue shirts, careful attention to intervals, a chord arrives, beautiful constellations of e-bow, swoon music of a new kind, difference tones beeping in higher partials, sound bath--spectralist, spreading hey on the fields, spackle and brick work, using a piece of string to measure a foundation, ancient stone mason techniques, hammer and spike curving. Distractions. I close my eyes. I much prefer to close my eyes.

I open them and peek again.....

Women planting seeds in crumbling earth mud. Bulbs and flowers. A rickety old man splitting rocks. I close my eyes...

I open them an peek again....

A butcher and meat hooks. Bagging pig entrails. The nasty work of the butcher. I close my eyes again, no interest in the video!

Sound ends with slaughterhouse video image........

Consider the semiotics of isolated intervals: A Perfect-fifth (P5) fuses as women cut straws in the factory, rolling the bunches up in the old newspapers.

In our visual culture, eye trumps ear. No need to contribute to that disbalance. I don't need the video for this music.....close eyes, open ears.