Albums

Sounds Heard: John Bischoff—Audio Combine

John Bischoff is a composer celebrated for his work at the cutting edge of live computer music, explorations that can be traced back all the way to the late 1970s and his experiments with his first KIM-1. Audio Combine, the recent New World Records release of Bischoff pieces spanning 2004-2011, is an undeniable reminder that, though his roots run deep, his music hasn’t been anchored.

Sounds Heard: Six MTC Studio Concert Videos

The six pieces showcased below were all performed at the kick-off event for the MTC Studio, held at 92YTribeca on October 15, 2010. Now New Music USA is going back into MTC’s archive and bringing these performances out for the world to see.

Sounds Heard: Paul Lansky—Imaginary Islands

Imaginary Islands, the latest entry in Bridge Records’ rather extensive Lansky discography, is composed expressly for and performed entirely by a symphony orchestra with no electronic elements whatsoever. Throughout his life, Lansky actually had composed for corporeal performers on acoustic instruments, or—as he jokingly describes them in his notes for the present CD—“carbon based life forms,” even though his reputation as a composer was established almost exclusively on the basis of his electronic music. Nevertheless, the three compositions collected on this new disc, all of which were composed within the last five years, chart a remarkable new compositional direction.

Sounds Heard: Aeolus Quartet—Many-Sided Music

Before the Aeolus Quartet returned to the frozen Northeast, they entered the studios at UT Austin to record Many-Sided Music, an album of new works by American composers, its title taken from Leonard Bernstein’s description of the “many-sidedness” of American music. I’ve had the good fortune of hearing several of these pieces live, fresh, and new, but it’s great to hear them with the benefit of time and reflection.

Sounds Heard: Eric Moe—Kick & Ride

Kick & Ride proves an apt title for composer Eric Moe’s recent BMOP Sound release, highlighting his use of drum set and percussion throughout the three compositions represented. The high energy works, characterized by Moe in the liner notes as “cantankerous sisters,” indeed deliver shots of dramatic flair and suspenseful anxiety that could nearly persuade a listener to skip that all-important morning cup of coffee.

Sounds Heard: Steve Roden—…i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces

Steve Roden’s …i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces (music in vernacular photographs 1880-1955) is a multimedia package that attracts attention with a whisper and glance, rather than a bell and a whistle. Two CDs containing a total of 51 tracks of early American music are slipped into the front and back cover pockets of a cleanly designed hardback book, the interior heavyweight pages are bursting with scans of 150 historic photographs.

Sounds Heard: Curtis K. Hughes—Danger Garden

Danger Garden (2006), the composition which opens a new disc devoted to Hughes’s music and also lends its name to the CD’s title, is an extraordinary aural rendering of the zeitgeist, an era offering more opportunities than any other heretofore albeit at the risk of information overload and attention deficit.

Sounds Heard—Eleanor Hovda: The Eleanor Hovda Collection

As varied in scope as the archive of compositions in The Eleanor Hovda Collection is, Hovda’s primary intent—to explore the outskirts of the sonic possibilities inherent in instrumental sound and their relationships to the physical world—is clearly expressed in every piece.

Sounds Heard: Aaron Cassidy—The Crutch of Memory

We could call Cassidy’s approach—those proliferating and always-changing approaches, rather—”extreme,” but that would be unfairly reductive. A listen through The Crutch of Memory, whose pieces show not only Cassidy’s growth as a composer but also the surprising multivalence of his pieces’ deliberately unstable material, will quickly dispel that prejudice.

Sounds Heard: Untravelled Path—Work in Progress

Work in Progress, the second disc from the Taos-based duo Untravelled Path, features microtonal instrumental music they perform on their own hand-made creations as well as four not-quite songs—a group of free-form mini-epics fusing words and music which last between 5 ½ and 7 minutes. Their otherworldly music, according to them, might be “some of the very first New Music for the 99%.”