The brittle little shards of sound that constitute the gently swaying mechanisms of Rick Tarquinio‘s The Accidental Psaltery are just that. They are, we are told, random bits, “loops and phrases.” They are not notes set in sequence by a composer, but parts left to their own devices, sonic leaves twisting in a digital wind. Their arrangement is largely a matter of chance, in Tarquinio’s telling. But “arrangement” has varied meanings. True, the exact sequence may be a matter of chance, but the larger arrangement, the system of chance that was set in motion and the sounds that play out in it, was in fact designed by a musician. These may be two different senses of the word arrangement, but the absence of the traditional meaning of the word merely emphasizes the more contemporary meaning, a meaning akin to a kind of systems music. Thus, a track like “Without Saying,” the first of the three that comprise The Accidental Psaltery, has a unique tension (MP3). On the surface, it is elegant, even reserved. But the absence of a ruling structure, the absence of a traditional give and take, lend it an underlying unease. There is no assurance as to where it will head, as to which line will take the lead, or which tone, if any, will provide a sense of melodic resolution. It may seem genteel, but it is, in fact, a slow and beautiful chaos.
Get all three tracks, for free download and streaming, at the netlabel restingbell.net.