Larry Polansky is a composer, performer, theorist and professor who has been working since the ’70s at places like Mills College and Dartmouth. He’s also a founder of Frog Peak Music (A Composer’s Collective). The Theory of Impossible Melody is a 1989 collection of computer music pieces composed from 1975 to 1989. Highlights include “B’rey’sheet” (1985)—an amazing piece for nice female vocals and interactive computer. Sonic mayhem ensues as the computer-guided synth sounds and human vocals—initially out of whack with each other—both share the same melody by the time all is said and done. Some nice held synth notes will also trance you out along the way. “The soloist sings the melody unaltered. The computer reacts to the voice harmonically, rhythmically, melodically and timbrally, gradually constraining its variations until the voice and computer are in unison.”
In “Four Voice Canon #3” (1975), which originally appeared on the old Music From Mills 3-LP, some fairly confounding layers of skittering, digitally synthesized sounds start out slow and sparse, and eventually build up to a fast and confusing sonic mirror hall. “Four Voice Canon #6” (1986) collages together samples of pond frogs, a Javanese rebab, a baritone sax played by Anthony Braxton, and an ascending sine wave preset of a Kurzweil 250 sampler. The samples initially appear one after another, then gradually get cut-up, rearranged and layered in myriad ways for quite a colorful quilt. “Psaltery” (1978-79) is a beautiful and glimmering 16-minute drone work “derived from a recording of one string of a hand-held bowed psaltery by tape manipulation techniques” with a lot more overdubs than your aunt Wilma has ever done. So, what does it sound like? The warmth of stars, the threshold of sleep or waking, a hot-air balloon ride, and a panoramic review of every moment you’re ever lived.
P.S. This CD is out-of-print now, but you can download it at Dartmouth.
Label: Artifact Catalog Number: ART 1004 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 7 Total Time: Unknown Country: United States Released: 1989 Related Artists: James Tenney More: Dartmouth, Forced Exposure, Frog Peak, Wikipedia