Ocean Eyes

Get out your hydrophones, kids: rushing streams, crashing waves, and seagulls. Though by and large these sounds are digitally masked, one might start getting suspicious, judging from the electronic sounds culled by Joseph Waters, that the composer’s name is actually a not-so-subtle pseudonym. To be sure, liquefied references abound on the composer’s album titled Offshore. Waters’s chamber composition, Ocean Eyes—stop it already!—demonstrates an interesting contradistinction between past and present. Without the electronic processing, the music is almost indistinguishable from Romantic era fodder, but this all changes once the laptop is hooked up. Even if it’s difficult to pin down what exactly this music’s intentions may be, it’s easy to put your finger on how far the radical electronic transformations actually go here because we’ve heard this music before, or at least we know where it came from and where it’s going. So, does this exercise in familiarity really emphasize the electronic component over the live performance? Hardly, due to the fact the acoustic side of the music pokes through its digital veil often enough to maintain some sense of its identity. But then come special moments when, rather than merely enhancing a gesture, Waters wittingly annihilates it, instantaneously evaporating all sensibilities in one fell swoop and a mouse click.

—RN