May 25, 2009
Recording the Grain
Spectral and textural, Recording the Grain is a kinetic performance by an electro-acoustic sextet that sonically interconnects while contrasting and juxtaposing light and dark timbres, staccato and languid tones and basso and strident pitches. The friction, echoes, recaps, puffs, twitters, snaps, buzzes and other sounds that result from this calculated interaction, take shape from the six players’ contributions, which encompass backgrounds in improvised and notated acoustic and electronic music.
Dutch soprano and baritone saxophonist Dirk Bruinsma for instance, has been playing since the early 1980s in bands such as the Palinckx octet and with improvisers like bassist Barry Guy. Turkish, bass clarinetist Sakir Oguz Buyukberber participates in traditional projects on one hand, and on the other in improv formations with leaders such as conductor Butch Morris. Native of The Hague, bassist Koen Nutters is a founding member of the N Collective of which this CD is one production, and has played with Italian saxophonist/sound artist Alessando Bossetti. Stavanger-born percussionist Morton J Olsen has worked both with Bossetti and Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad. Managing director of Amsterdam’s STEIM foundation, Robert van Heumen uses LiSa, STEIM’s live sampling software with different controllers to mix environmental, found and created sounds. Meanwhile American Jeff Carey uses his laptop with SuperCollider in live performance and has taught at STEIM.
Watery signal processing and flowing static interpolations from both computers characterize “Available Sources (Ex 1)”, the ensemble’s 25 minute-plus concluding track, as well as much of the music that precedes it. While the liquid oscillations, whooshing flutters and knob-twisting scrapes help define the creation, so too do bass clarinet squeaks and chalumeau blowing; mouth-sucked reed, tongue slaps and key percussion from the saxophonist; plus xylophone pings and bell-tree rattling from the percussionist. Reed chirping and curvaceous whoops matched with resounding drum beats which boomerang back into the mix, finally reach a climax of intermingled timbres. Eventually, a lyrical bass clarinet run gives way to a coda featuring the other reed man’s snapping tongue percussion plus the drummer’s backbeat shifts and rebounds.
Variants of these strategies adumbrate through the earlier, briefer tracks. Overall, pointillist daubs of sound brush up against one another to make an ever-shifting aural canvas. Like a flashing neon sculpture, different aspects of the tunes are illuminated at different times. At one point you concentrate on signal-processed wave forms advancing in double counterpoint with moderato and adagio string bites; at another underlying fluttering and pulsating reed trills; at a third instance, snare rebounds and curt tongue slaps and growls making common cause. Ever so often individual ticks like clarinet yelps, woody bass thumps or buzzing ring-modulator clangs surface, only to lock into place within the overall Klangfarbenmelodie.
Contrapuntal layering of all these effects provides Office-R (6) with distinctiveness – an ever-shifting interface that negates minimalist austerity while clasping on to its hypnotic effects.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. No Tones Around Two (STR 1+3) 2. Gold Part II (STR 5) 3. Split Breath Ending (STR 1) 4. The Repeats ((STR 1A) 5. Available Sources (Ex 1)
Personnel: Sakir Oguz Buyukberber (bass clarinet); Dirk Bruinsma (soprano and baritone saxophones); Koen Nutters (bass); Morten J Olsen (percussion); Robert van Heumen (laptop LiSa) and Jeff Carey (laptop Super Collider)