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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Eliane Radigue – l’île re-sonante
(shiiin1)

Eliane Radigue is a French composer associated with Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry. While her music is minimal, a better description would be music that slowly evolves. Slowly evolves-ism, evolutionism? Deep drones from her trusty ARP analog synthesizer rise up and blanket the room, phantom tones appear and exit. Early in the composition a choir and/or maybe an organ loops in one channel only to fade away a while later and we are again drifting on a sea of drones. After a while sweeping wave sounds show up like slow wind on Saturn. Fans of Eliane’s previous work will not be disappointed, other’s should get acquainted ASAP.

Also be sure to check out the interview with her in the Wire #260 and Charles Curtis performing Naldjorlak at the Tenri Cultural Institute on December 5th, 2005 at 9 pm.

Art Gumm
guest reviewer
October 2005

Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.

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Jon Hassell – last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street
(ECM 2077)

Back on the ECM label for the first time in 22 years, Jon Hassells Fourth World music is a blend of influences – distant hand drums, minimalist ambient atmospheric washes, jazz, exotica and his studies with Hindustani Kirana raga singer Pandit Pran Nath and German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. He was present on the première recording of Terry Riley’s In C and has performed with La Monte Young’s legendary Theatre of Eternal Music. Collaborations have included Ry Cooder, David Sylvian, the Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and others.

The music is slow and breathes with timelessness, contemplating amazing, the long melody sometimes over a sparse beat.

His transparent trumpet could be easily mistaken for a flute, a voice, synthesizer or a maybe a conch shell. Those who think the special sound of his horn is created by electronics alone should check out his 1999 acoustic recording Fascinoma for proof that this myth is not true. I was fortunate to hear his group at the World Financial Center with Brian Eno at the soundboard about 20 years ago. The night was magic, the music like a film unfolding between our ears – the sound of the Fourth World.

Violinist Kheir Eddine M’Kacich is a surprising addition to this constantly evolving band of Jon Hassell – trumpet, keyboard; Rick Cox and Eivind Aarset – guitars; Peter Freeman – bass; Jan Bang and Dino J.A. Deane – samples; Jamie Muhobera – keyboard; Helge Norbakken and Pete Lockett – drums.

dB
February 2009

Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.

Pandit Pran Nath – Raga Cycle
(Shri Moonshine 003)

Hindustani raga master Pandit Pran Nath (1918-1996) is well known in the West because of high profile students like composers Terry Riley, La Monte Young, artist Marian Zazeela, jazz musicians Don Cherry, Lee Konitz and others. His focus was on alap, the early slow section of a raga with special attention to intonation. There are not many commercially available recordings of this vocalist, most are out of print, so the release of these concert recordings have been highly anticipated. It’s about time! Recorded in 1972 at the Palace Theater in Paris, Ragas Shudh Sarang and Kut Todi unfold gently and gradually with simple tabla hand drum accompaniment and the rich hypnotic drone of the tamboura strings. His singing is timeless and sublime.

dB
July 2008

Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.

I see Mamoru Fujieda has been in NYC recently. He was visiting with Kyle Gann and Downtown Music Gallery. He even has a picture of the store on his web page. So I’ve been a fan for years, here’s copy I wrote for DMG a few days ago.

Mamoru Fujieda – Patterns of Plants II
(Tzadik TZ 8061)

One of my CD collecting obsessions pre-Y2K was microtonal music. I got everything I could get my hands on. In 1996, Tzadik introduced me to a composer named Mamoru Fujieda with a release titled Patterns of Plants. Various tuning systems using extended Just Intonation, Pythagorean and well temperaments, unique instrumentation and somehow composed using numbers from the subtle changes of electrical activity on the leaves of plants, this album was a revelation to me. Now we have a second volume of this music, this time with violin joining a free reed mouth organ, the sho and the transparent harp like sonorities of the koto. Five more chamber music suites – here called collections – use combinations of these instruments including one (the Fourteenth Collection) for solo violin. Fujieda studied composition with Morton Feldman and Gordon Mumma, these two albums remind me a lot of Lou Harrison. I’m already looking forward to volume III. Also on Tzadik is another CD to check out by this composer, the Night Chant.

David Beardsley
November 2008

Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.

Terry Riley – Keyboard Studies 1-2, Tread on the Trail
(Stradivarius STR 33793)

Although best known for his landmark composition In C, there are a few other mid-60’s pieces by composer Terry Riley that are not as well known. Keyboard Studies 1-2 (1964) resembles his psychedelic classic A Rainbow in Curved Air and his legendary all night concerts of the ’60s and ’70s. With a series of modal figures of different lengths, melodic cells repeat and overlap in a hypnotic fabric of sound along with sections with the pulse of of early minimalism. The jazzy Tread on the Trail (1965) shows the obvious influence of Riley’s honky-tonk piano blues and ragtime studies. It’s about time we had a solid recording of these relatively obscure keyboard pieces and pianist Fabrizio Ottaviucci brings the music to life.

dB
July 2008

Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.

Terry Riley – The Last Camel in Paris, Théâtre Edouard VIII, Paris, 10 November 1978
(Elision Fields EF102)

Recorded in Paris, France more than a year before the release of that milestone album Shri Camel, this is the best live recording I’ve heard of American composer Terry Riley’s legendary organ concerts. Performed on a modified Yamaha YC-45D portable electric organ tuned in just intonation through his legendary Time Lag Accumulator system of tape loops and echoes, his composition/improvisation has a mellow evening psychedelic trance feel. Influenced by his studies with the late Hindustani raga master vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, he travels through a post-minimalist territory of drones and modal improvisations in a fifty four minute performance. Although this recording shares musical themes with the studio recording of Shri Camel, one of the main differences is technological. The delay system in the studio was digital, while the live system was analog tape. I’m always waiting for something new to pop out of Riley’s archives and into circulation. This one is a gem. If Elision Fields can come up with this for release, I have high hopes that there are additional jewels in the vault perfect for consumption by the hordes of listeners like me hungry for more.

David Beardsley
May 2008

Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.

Lou Harrison
For Guitar: Por Gitaro, Suites for Guitar
(Mode 195)

American composer Lou Harrison (1917-2003) passed on a few years ago at 85 and left us an amazing body of work. Mostly known for incororating the music of the Western Pacific rim in his music, Harrison was also a major composer of music for classical guitar in historical temperaments and Just Intonation tuning. Southern California guitarist and microtonal specialist John Schneider continues his survey of Harrisons music with premeire recordings of In Honor of Devine Mr. Handel with the HMC American Gamelan, Serenade and Suite for National Steel Guitar. Also included on this disk are Suite No. 1 & 2 and Ditone Set. For a Twentith Century composer, Harrison was surprisingly melodic for his time – no electronics, minimalism, noise or serialism here. Liner notes by Bill Alves, who also conducted the HMC American Gamelan.

David Beardlsey
August 2008

Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.

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