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    Alvin Lucier – Wind Shadows

    Alvin Lucier is a composer of experimental music who has been working since the 1960s in a solo setting, and with such cutting edge groups as the Sonic Arts Union, which also claimed as members fellow ’60s electronic music pioneers (and your basic, everyday legends) Robert Ashley, David Behrman and Gordon Mumma. Lucier mainly works with materials and processes that investigate acoustic phenomena and human perception of sound. He has been teaching at Wesleyan University since 1970.

    Wind Shadows is a double-CD collection released in 2005 containing mostly minimal works from the late 1980s and ’90s that joins live instruments with the humble oscillator to investigate a series of beat frequencies. Opening disc one, “In Memoriam Stuart Marshall” pits a bass clarinet against a low-pitched pure wave oscillator. Belting out some super low-pitched drones, the two switch back and forth between matching unison and going slightly off kilter to produce uncanny beating effects. Next, a clarinet, trombone, violin, cello and double bass blat out single notes into a digital reverb unit set to various lengths to mimic “40 Rooms.” Similar to track one, “In Memoriam Jon Higgins” features a slow sweep pure wave oscillator that proceeds from the lowest to the highest notes of an accompanying clarinet for some slow and fast beatings. “Letters” shuts down disc one with a bunch of invigorating dissonant piano pound sprinkled with woozy clarinet, violin and cello for quite a homely slice of ear candy.

    “Q” opens up disc two with an array of deep, resonant, electronic drones that sound like a fleet of taxi cabs crossing a suspension bridge while a squadron of bombers soars overhead. In the five parts of “A Tribute to James Tenney,” a double bass and an oscillator move together from high-pitched to super low-pitched string scraping and beating drones. Meanwhile, over in the “Bar Lazy J,” a clarinet and trombone engage in some held tones and silences. A cello, piano and viola offer up some sublime, shrill, microtonal drones during “Fideliotrio,” which sounds kind of like a cross between Lois Vierk’s “Go Guitars” and a Tony Conrad screechfest. Finally, the title track closes the whole set with another trombone and oscillator beat. I reccomend Wind Shadows for anyone into subtle sonic investigations that result in droneworks that are much more somber than usual.

    Label: New World Records Catalog Number: 80628-2 Format: 2-CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: Disc 1: 4, Disc 2: 9 Total Time: Disc 1: 59:29, Disc 2: 78:12 Country: United States Released: 2005 More: Discogs, Forced Exposure, Last FM, Lovely Music, Official, Perfect Sound Forever, Scaruffi, Ubu Web, Wikipedia

    Text ©2010 Arcane Candy

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