June 22nd, 2011
Even though his first name reminds me of ketchup, Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) remains a large fixture in the Food / Music section of my brain for another reason: as the man responsible for assembling one of my favorite pieces of electronic music ever, Hymnen (especially the ecstatically screaming drones in the Fourth Region), from 1965. Just four years after that epic work, Heinz had another musical revelation during a car ride on tour in New England: he jotted down on an envelope one simple musical formula that would be repeated over a long time. This piece, Mantra, marked a return to completely notated works to reign in his touring group, various members of which questioned who really was the creator–composer or performers–of the so-called intuitive music they had been partially improvising over the past several years. Spread out like ketchup over a 67-minute wide sandwich and harking back to the composer’s early serialism-inspired years, Mantra’s construction encourages two dueling pianists to produce a wide pallet of aural treats: from meditative to explosive, electronically treated with a ring modulator-like digital effect. This strange sound is occasionally accented with woodblock chops and crotale pings with a few spaceship gurgles thrown into the mix. The sonic variety comes as quite a surprise, considering the score’s simple economy. The passionate playing of pianists Xenia Pestova and Pascal Meyer and its electronic transformation by Jan Panis make this first-ever all-digital 2009 recording of Mantra really shine.
Label: Naxos Catalog Number: 8.572398 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 26 Total Time: 67:33 Country: Germany Released: 2010 More: Amazon, Discogs, Forced Exposure, Official, Wikipedia
Text ©2011 Arcane Candy
June 19th, 2011
Five clones of Rash Behari Datta playing sitar grace the snazzy cover of this fine album. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and count ‘em yourself. I won’t be offended. If you think five is impressive, though, you better sit down, because Datta overdubbed himself 20 times playing various parts of each song on this recording, hence the title. That’s a whole rash of Rashes! Welcome to Overdub City, where Datta takes lush to a whole new level. Props must also be given to his impressive playing skills for pulling off such a challenging feat with floating colors. The program consists of Raga Malkouns, a popular night raga that was once recorded by Indian master singer Pandit Pran Nath. The four sections alternate back and forth between vigorous, longform finger workouts infused with sprightly melodic intricacy to sublimely meditative slow burners that you wish would never end. Any hour is the perfect time to sit down cross-legged on the floor, chomp on some Uttar Pradeshi cuisine and soak in the acoustic beauty of 20 Sitars.
Label: ARC Music Catalog Number: EUCD 2312 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 5 Total Time: 65:44 Country: United Kingdom Released: 2010 More: All Music, Amazon
Text ©2011 Arcane Candy
June 17th, 2011
GéNIA (born 1972) is a Russian “concert pianist, educator and producer. Known for her contemporary and classical music concerts as well as commercial multimedia events.” John Richards (born 1966) is a British electronic music composer who has been working since the 1990s. Their Suite for Piano and Electronics is comprised of two short pieces that are a pleasure-inducing exercise in sublime subtlety. Punching in at just 5:22, the “Prelude” does its best imitation of a Qualude by setting aloft a slowly circling mist full of super sparse, minor note-littered piano playing and quiet, chattering electronics. The nearly 11 minute long “No. 2.” gently belts out a rumbling piano cloud that suddenly segues into rippling arpeggios that will tickle your midnight atmospheric fancy just fine.
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