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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Third Stream Goes Digital

If LTJ Bukem’s recent double album, Journey Inwards, left you wanting — if his hybrid of drum’n’bass and cool jazz was, perhaps, a little too sleek — seek out the new 12″ series from Kosma, called New Aspects in Third Stream Music and available from the German label Infracom. The first of five scheduled releases is titled “Odessa,” a fine, free-floating example of jazzy drum’n’bass (the B-side is a Peter Kruder remix of the same track). Like Bukem’s model, the underlying percussion here is drum’n’bass perpetrated by highly life-like instrumentation, an apparent drum kit tracing patterns we’ve come to associate with computers. The rhythm is spare and circular, with the odd beat dropped out for drama’s sake. Thick piano chords accentuate key moments. Laid on top is a host of lounge-oriented material, from operatic exotica vocals to John Barry-style strings. Computerized tones float by occasionally, but the overall effect is very “real.” The series’ title, of course, comes from Gunther Schuller’s formulation for a classically motivated form of jazz music: “third stream” was meant to describe the overlap of chamber composition and meditative jazz improvisation, anything from Stan Kenton’s conceptual big-band charts to George Russell’s theoretically informed small-band stuff. Kosma may simply be having fun with the term (and the period album graphics) but he makes a point, nonetheless, about the friction between computerized composition and its reliance on sampled material that was, once upon a time, not only live but spontaneous. Kruder’s remix is fairly non-intrusive. He has some fun with a wah-wah-ish sound, and drops bits of percussion and other elements off to the side of the stereo spectrum.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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