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Alex Jang : Momentary Encounters (Another Timbre)

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Linda Smith Catlin: Wanderer (Another Timbre)

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Cassandra Miller : O Zomer! (Another Timbre)

Two ensemble works and two solo pieces by Christian Wolff's favourite contemporary composer, Cassandra Miller, who is blazing a very personal trail through the experimental music world, with brilliant performances by Apartment House, Mira Benjamin, Philip Thomas, and Charles Curtis with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov. ... Click to View


Cassandra Miller : Just So (Another Timbre)

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Bucher / Countryman (w/ Simon Tan / Isla Antinero): Extremely Live in Manila (ChapChap Records)

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Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Adam Pultz Melbye / kriton b.: The Distant Sound Within (Creative Sources)

Three strings--cello from Guilherme Rodrigues, double bass from Adam Pultz Melbye, and viola from Ernesto Rodrigues--plus harmonium and objects from Kriton Beyer, in a live performance at Kuhlspot Social Club in Berlin, each of the 9 movements a concentrative work named with a three-letter onomatopoeia, as the players draw sound from a mysterious dark distance. ... Click to View


Akmee (Pedersen / Jerve / Albertsend / Wildhagen): Neptun (Nakama Records)

Debut album from this Oslo collective quartet of free improvisers led by drummer Andreas Wildhagen (Nilssen-Love Large Unit) with Erik Kimestad Pedersen on trumpet, Kjetil Jerve on piano, and Erlend Olderskog Albertsen on double bass, a thoroughly modern band that balances more experimental playing with improv in the European tradition; a strong start. ... Click to View


Akmee (Pedersen / Jerve / Albertsend / Wildhagen): Neptun [VINYL] (Nakama Records)

Debut album from this Oslo collective quartet of free improvisers led by drummer Andreas Wildhagen (Nilssen-Love Large Unit) with Erik Kimestad Pedersen on trumpet, Kjetil Jerve on piano, and Erlend Olderskog Albertsen on double bass, a thoroughly modern band that balances more experimental playing with improv in the European tradition; a strong start. ... Click to View


Nakama: Worst Generation (Nakama Records)

Freely improvised and unusual collective improv from the quintet of Christian Meaas Svendsen (double bass), Andreas Wildhagen (drums), Ayumi Nataka (piano), Adrian Loseth Waade (violin) and Agness Hvizdalek (voice), an abstract yet energetic album with Hvizdalek's voice adding an exotic edge to extended techniques based in free jazz strategies. ... Click to View


Nakama: Worst Generation [VINYL] (Nakama Records)

Freely improvised and unusual collective improv from the quintet of Christian Meaas Svendsen (double bass), Andreas Wildhagen (drums), Ayumi Nataka (piano), Adrian Loseth Waade (violin) and Agness Hvizdalek (voice), an abstract yet energetic album with Hvizdalek's voice adding an exotic edge to extended techniques based in free jazz strategies. ... Click to View


Machinefabriek: Engel (Machinefabriek)

Rutger Zuydervelt, AKA Machinefabriek, expanded the existing score for Marta Alstadsaeter & Kim-Jomi Fischer's dance piece "Engel", which is a contemporary piece combining dance and circus acrobatics, the new soundtrack a large work combining rich mirages of electronica, ambient sound, assertive noise, and even a section of Paal Nilessen-Love's drumwork. ... Click to View


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  John Cage 
  Klang der Wandlungen  
  (Edition RZ) 


  
   review by Brian Olewnick
  2018-09-05
John Cage: Klang der Wandlungen (Edition RZ)

It's a little amusing to imagine an innocent listener, someone with no previous exposure to the music of John Cage, purchasing this superb 3-disc set, thinking of the entirely erroneous perception he or she would have while still enjoying a marvelous musical experience.

There are only five pieces spread across the three discs and there's no indication given as to who was responsible for the curation (although the liner notes are by Jakob Ullmann and he performs the final piece as well), but all of them lie safely in what might be called the "gentler" area of Cage's music. If anyone needs a soft introduction to his art, this is it. Plus, it's pretty fantastic.

Disc One opens with "Seventy-Four", a 1992 composition (the year Cage died) for orchestra (here, the Sinfonie-orchester Baden-Baden und Freiberg), which consists of single notes played without the aid of a conductor, but using flexible time brackets and "the usual imperfection of tuning perhaps slightly exaggerated so that the music is microtonal" (from the score). What's heard in the 12-minute work is a steady, rich drone with periodic, swelling crescendi. It's almost shockingly tonal, giving the impression of a vast, calmly undulating sea. As with most of Cage's late works, the music appears fully formed, as though a door had opened to a scene already in motion. "103" (1991) is similar in approach — an orchestra (the K๖lner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester) playing single tones within time brackets — but lasts for more than an hour and a half, spread between Discs One and Two. One has the mental image of a plowed field bestrewn with small rocks and other naturally occurring items, perhaps the occasional tree or bush. More impressively, though essentially a piece that revolves around stasis, there's so much variation, minute though it may be, within its confines that the listener is endlessly fascinated, much like intently observing a landscape.

The remainder of the second disc is taken up by two pieces, "Postcard from Heaven" (1982) and the oft-performed, "In a Landscape". The former is written for from one to twenty harps and draws inspiration from ragas, with the harpist allowed a certain range of improvisation — unusual for Cage — but having to fulfill other requirements such as cycling through five pedal configurations. For this recording, harpist Gabriele Emde recorded sixteen parts in the studio and added the seventeenth live in concert. It begins with an odd series of clicking sounds, almost like ratchets of a mechanism being wound up. But soon — inevitably, perhaps, given the title and instrumentation — we ascend into the ethereal harp-world. There are allusions to koto music and other Eastern string traditions but we're generally in a dreamlike state, replete with mysteriously uttered words, floating on silvery clouds. Emde also plays "In a Landscape", most commonly heard on piano. It's arguably Cage's "prettiest" work, often mentioned as a precursor of New Age music, but its beauty runs deep. Emde's performance is as lovely as any I've heard.

Disc Three is given over to one work: "Some of the Harmonies of Maine" (1978), a piece for organ, played here by Jakob Ullmann. From the description on the johncage.org page: "This work is based on Supply Belcher's tune book The Harmony of Maine (Boston, 1794). Using chance operations, Cage determined whether a note from the original source should stay or be removed, how long it should sound, and how it should be registered." One hears intervals of long-held notes, extremely rich and vibrant, that appear in seeming random order, sometimes a single line, sometimes two or more overlaid. A sense of "hymn" remains despite the alterations as well as a feeling of sheer massiveness, though not an oppressive one. Something like a very slow, alien processional. A wonderful, unusual piece of music.

The whole set is extraordinary, a must-hear for anyone interested in Cage, including the neophyte.



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