Albums

Sounds Heard: Alexander Berne—Flickers of Mime/Death of Memes

The path through Alexander Berne & the Abandoned Orchestra’s Flickers of Mime—paired here in a 2-CD set with his equally fascinating Death of Memes—weaves in its course. Beginning with an ambient base layer of sound out of which distinct sonic events emerge and retreat, Berne creates the sensation that we are watching the landscape of a foreign country through the window of a moving vehicle, the sights only half glimpsed and even less concretely understood.

Games Played: IV-V-I

With the holidays upon us, many of us musical types have been doing some last-minute shopping, racking our brains to think of any gift that is sufficiently cooler than a treble clef paperweight. So it seems like a good time to bring up IV-V-I, a new harmony-based card game created and designed by composer and educator Rafael Hernandez.

Sounds Heard: The Beach Boys—The Smile Sessions

The Smile Sessions—a total of 144 tracks (in its most complete available form) from the 80 sessions recorded by The Beach Boys between 1966 and 1967 for the never-issued LP SMiLE—contains some of the most provocative musical ideas of the last half-century in any genre of music. But it has taken nearly 45 years for it to be officially released.

Sounds Heard: itsnotyouitsme—Everybody’s Pain Is Magnificent

For an album peppered with so many electronic sources, much of itsnotyouitsme’s Everybody’s Pain sounds surprisingly earthy and organic (as suggested by Allegrea Rosenberg’s striking cover art, which features roots and branches framed in a kind of pixelated, psychedelicized landscape). It’s a good fit for an album in which electronic sounds and processing are frequently used to conjure textures that seem almost more “alive” than the sound of traditional acoustic instruments.

Sounds Heard: Gregory Spears—Requiem

Like walking along the stone floors of cathedrals built ages ago or gazing at the portraits of kings whose reins have long since ended, Gregory Spears’s Requiem offers its audience a similarly blurred aesthetic experience, dissolving the present moment into an imagined history suggested by the trappings of style and language.

Sounds Heard: Christopher O’Riley/Matt Haimovitz—Shuffle.Play.Listen

It seems perfectly natural that cellist Matt Haimovitz, who in the very early 21st century moved the Bach cello suites out of the concert hall and into what were at the time “alternative” performance spaces such as bars and nightclubs, would join forces with pianist Christopher O’Riley, who has created his own piano arrangements of songs by Nirvana and Radiohead to name just a few.

Sounds Heard: Odyssey—Mimi Stillman & Charles Abramovic

Among the more effective “piano + one” possibilities is piano plus flute which goes back to at least Mozart and counts among its enduring repertoire works from Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Cecile Chaminade, Serge Prokofiev, York Bowen, Samuel Barber, Paul Bowles, Francis Poulenc, Olivier Messiaen, Aaron Copland, and even John Cage. And in recent years, several recordings have shown that the combination of flute and piano continues to be intriguing.

Sounds Heard: Benjamin Broening—Recombinant Nocturnes

Benjamin Broening’s catalog is rich in electroacoustic works, and as founder and artistic director of the University of Richmond’s Third Practice Festival he has likewise affirmed that the marriage of experimental sonic expressivity with an almost vocal sense of line is not merely one of convenience, but rather a deep source of inspiration.

Sounds Heard: Mehldau-Hays-Zimmerli—Modern Music

Every now and then some music comes along containing a clash of sensibilities that forces listeners to confront head on the limitations of listening to music within the context of a genre, whatever genre, as well as attempting to listen beyond genre. Take, for example, the seemingly innocuously titled Modern Music, recently released by Nonesuch. While it is ostensibly a series of duets performed by jazz pianists Brad Mehldau and Kevin Hays, the disc’s digipack cover and spine contain the additional credit “composed and arranged by Patrick Zimmerli.”