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    Roger Reynolds – For a Reason

    Roger Reynolds - For a Reason

    “Roger Reynolds (born 1934) studied music composition at the University of Michigan. Together with fellow classmates Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma, he was a founding member of the ONCE Group. In the late ‘60s, Reynolds settled in Southern California to teach composition at the University of California, San Diego, where he has been based to this day. Reynolds’ works most often include text of poetic or mythological origin, electronic sound elements, and multichannel spatial explorations.”–Wikipedia

    Thank you, Wikipedia, for such a splendid write-up on Roger Reynolds. I almost totally forgot about him! In fact, the only time he ever enters my mind is when I see someone wearing a tin foil hat! Or maybe when a record label sends me a promo copy of his latest work like this 2-CD set, For a Reason, courtesy of Neuma. As I cracked open the envelope, I was surprised to see a mere 2-CD set with a somewhat slim 46-page booklet housed in such a sturdy, thick box. Usually, releases of this size are packaged in a thin slipcase. Anyway, let’s proceed onward with a review laced with so many shameless puns that it will keep only myself amused, shall we?

    “Dream Mirror [SHARESPACE II]” opens CD 1 with the guitarist Pablo Gomez Cano (perhaps all decked out in camo?) playing in an acoustic rasgueado-flamenco style. The moods he creates range from staggered, prickly, and frenzied all the way to quite quiet, sparse and meditative. All the while, abstract rumbling sounds billow about courtesy of Paul Hembree on the computer. This piece is part of SHARESPACE, a series that “re-imagines the format of the instrumental duo as a combination of an acoustic instrumentalist and a computer musician.” Another long piece for duo in the 20-plus minute range, “Shifting Drifting [SHARESPACE IV]” sees Paul Hembree again driving his computer like a Humvee through Irvine, California late at night as the famous violinist Irvine Arditti taps, screeches and saws the day away. This piece was composed as a nod to “how suddenly and decisively Arditti can shift from one position to another.”

    “Here and There” opens CD 2 courtesy of the speaking percussionist, Steven Schick, who offers up a razor-sharp spoken word performance featuring a bucket full of text from the author Samuel Becket. Schick simultaneously scrapes away on a large guiro, taps on a tam tam and occasionally pounds a bass drum. I could swear I also heard a low-pitched gong here and there. Also including a vibraphone, a very sparse mood is maintained for over a half hour. Originally written in 1985 for the vocalist Joan La Barbara to accompany herself at the piano, the never-performed “Sketchbook” was shelved for over three decades. In 2016, the piece was finally dusted off and hauled out of the morgue in a hearse driven by soprano Liz Pearse. Her operatic singing style along with the speaking of spoken words are all transformed into an array of unusual, startling sounds.

    Unless you focus your attention like a laser upon these four pieces, they can be a little tough to get into. Demanding very close listening, perhaps these are compositions that only a mother or a fellow academic could love. Or maybe YOU. With a prominent use of guitar, my favorite, “Dream Mirror,” is the most accessible one, which is probably why it was positioned as the first track of the set. The booklet contains the full story of Roger Reynolds’ career and the four pieces presented here, as well as plenty of nice photos of everyone involved, and as if that weren’t enough, visuals from the scrapbooks Roger assembles for each composition(!)

    Label: Neuma Catalog Number: Neuma 128 Format: 2-CD box set Packaging: Double Digi-Pak and booklet inside box Tracks: CD 1: 2, CD 2: 2 Total Time: CD 1: 45:59, CD 2: 57:31 Country: United States Released: 2023 More: Discogs, Official, Pogus

    Text ©2023 Arcane Candy

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