Weekly composing homework? Yes, please. For anyone intrigued by the sonic ideas this type of exercise can generate, your spelunking down the Disquiet Junto rabbit hole is sure to be rewarded. Even for those who don’t want to wade in and create music themselves, with 88 projects already completed, the curious listener has a cavernous library to select from.
This week, three unique keyboard albums caught my attention: Phyllis Chen’s Little Things, Jim Fox’s Black Water, and Timo Andres’s Home Stretch.
The music included on this nine-track album showcases a seamless marriage of acoustic instruments and electronics that opens its mouth and sings, up close and personal, in a language that retains its vibrant human energy even while being processed and polished by Wohl’s electronic hand.
The role of narrative—whether indirectly or overtly applied to the final composition—is a central factor in Stacy Garrop’s typical working process. In it, she had found a way to shape and chart the sonic image she wants her music to ultimately project to the world beyond her studio.
In total, the music included on the disc spans some ten years of compositional activity, and Amy Williams’s experience as a pianist and her work in The Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo has likely contributed to her sensitivity and skill when it comes to composing chamber music.
Originally a student of history before he refocused his efforts into music, Robert Carl’s interest in time, memory, and space are veins running through his compositions, his work more given to conjuring imagery than narrative plot. And whether inspiration is mined in the wake of a seascape or travelers on a speeding bullet train, the resulting music tends to carry a distinct organic beauty and rich, encompassing depth.
I may know better than to judge a CD by its cover, but it was hard to resist the poetic allure of the graphic score which unfolds across the front of Voyage in a White Building 1, a New World Records-issued recording of three pieces by Burr Van Nostrand.
Shelter, composed by Bang on a Can founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, is a seven-movement evening-length oratorio sung for this recording with crystalline precision by vocalists Martha Cluver, Mellissa Hughes, and Caroline Shaw (yes, that Caroline Shaw) alongside Ensemble Signal (Brad Lubman, conductor).
There is an arresting, high-voltage energy that often infuses presentations of Marcos Balter’s music, and an obvious fascination on the part of the composer with exploring new sonic possibilities while keeping the human element—the living, breathing performer—center stage.
Presented in chronological order and spanning a period from 1963 to 2007, the works included on From Moog to Mac demonstrate the process of experimentation and development that Herbert Deutsch went through as he created work for Bob Moog’s iconic synthesizers and then on into computer generated sound.