From Allan Kozinn‘s New York Times obituary for Maryanne Amacher:
“Many of Ms. Amacher’s most notable works are known only by reputation. They were site-specific installations that would be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to recreate, although several have been staged in new versions for different locations. Moreover, the handful of recordings that offer samples of her scores barely do them justice: Ms. Amacher was less concerned with sound on its own terms than with the way sound was perceived in space and over extended time periods.”
Full piece at nytimes.com. More on Amacher at maryanneamacher.org.
Things Suspended Converge and Fall by Katherine Young is seven interrelated pieces with a variety of settings. This is contemporary classical music in the academic tradition, though from an academe (Wesleyan) that has long employed no less outward bound a musician as Anthony Braxton as a professor. There’s the full ensemble, which calls for 20 musicians on several more instruments, ranging from viola and violin to trumpet and percussion to Wurlitzer electric piano and Max/MSP-powered “live electronics.” And there are numerous chamber-music subsets, including several that employ the typewriter.
“Archery Instead of Bowling (DeLuxe Edition)” is scored for typewriter, piano, and live electronics, though the latter two materials are almost invisible against the only recently familiar but today antique sound of keys triggering the imprint of letters, digits, and punctuation on paper (MP3). There’s something uniquely pleasurable in hearing the typerwriter eke out its rudimentary semblance of rhythm and melody, punctuated, expectedly but entertainingly, by the ping of a carriage return.
Also recommended is a duo for electric piano and tuba, titled “Underworld (Dancing),” in which both instruments play fragile baubles that hint at melody, each occasionally providing a drone-like backing to the other (MP3).
[audio:http://mandorla.com.mx/mp3/017_Katherine/2)%20Katherine%20Young%20-%20Archery%20Instead%20of%20Bowling.mp3|titles=”Archery Instead of Bowling (DeLuxe Edition)”|artists=Katherine Young]
[audio:http://mandorla.com.mx/mp3/017_Katherine/6)%20Katherine%20Young%20-%20Underworld%20(Dancing).mp3|titles=”Underworld (Danging)”|artists=Katherine Young]
The music was recorded live in performance at Wesleyan University Crowell Concert Hall, on April 13, 2008, and recently released on the netlabel mandorla.com.mx. Performers include Emily Manzo on electric piano, Phillip Schulze and Ivan Naranjo on live electronics (Max/MXP and Supercollider respectively), and Brian Parks on piano and typewriter. (Two additional typewriters are employed on other ensemble pieces.)
More on the composer at katherineyoung.info and katherineyoung.blogspot.com.
The Russian netlabel top-40.org has an ironic name — sarcastic, even. The music it releases, that is to say, is anything but. Characteristic of the work is Top 40’s most recent collection, P_Sh‘s Changed Weather Melodies, which is a set of glitchy, fragile sonic maneuvers. Changed Weather is typified by the album’s first, untitled track (MP3). In it, a thick bed of static-laced droning — listen closely for the tiny breaks and resets, loops and wisps — is slowly overtaken by a gentle, rusty, melody-like line. Absolutely beautiful. The full album has seven cuts: five more untitled pieces and a remix.
Get the full set as a Zip archive at top-40.org.
The piece “Candle” by Saito Koji is a single track, and the track could easily be mistaken for a single sine curve. It slowly wends its way back and forth with a regularity somewhat belied by its relaxed pace. It has the gentle curve of the path of a teenage bicyclist taking advantage of an underutilized suburban street on a lazy, sun-dappled weekend morning. In time, as with anything perceived for an extended period, details within “Candle” make themselves apparent. There’s the way an underlying tone appears to separate from the main one as the drone — for that is what this piece of music is, a drone, a long, gently undulating swell of singular sound — hits its peak. There is the matter of the curves within the curve: the inevitable and much quicker little wave that makes up the overarching wave. And then there’s the tone, this lush fume of middle-range sound, one that never tops off nor sneaks below the range of human hearing. The latter is a compositional decision on Koji’s part that keeps “Candle” in focus throughout its half-hour life.
More information at restingbell.net and at myspace.com/saitokoji.