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tag: classical

Anna Höstman Goes Dark

Exploring the aphotic zone with the Red Shift Ensemble

Don’t judge a track by its waveform.

Certainly, if there are hard edges evenly spaced, then expect something with a beat. To sort out the pace, your imagination must factor the number of perceived units to the track’s length. And still you might be wildly off.

And if the waveform varies widely, ranging from short snatches of excited activity to long swaths of even keel, the best you can do is to expect the unexpected.

The waveform for “Blind” by Anna Höstman, a composer based in Victoria, British Columbia, suggests itself as a series of swells, vertiginous ones by the looks of it. To a degree that turns out to be, upon listening, the case, but just barely. While “Blind” does move from slow pulse to slow pulse, the heights are quite subdued, the string-instrument equivalent of someone humming inwardly to themselves, lost in their own thoughts. The result is serene tinged by tension, as played here by Red Shift Ensemble, a string quartet consisting of cello, violin, viola, and double bass. The combination of cello and double bass lends the music its depth, its rich lower end (contrast Red Shift with a traditional string quartet, which would have no bass, and a pair of violinists). Listening to the variation in “Blind,” to the subtle steps of tonal development, is quite rewarding.

In a brief liner note, the composer explains that the track is inspired by the aphotic zone, or the darkest depths of bodies of water, where light doesn’t penetrate. The performance was the piece’s debut, December 16, 2019, at the Pyatt in Vancouver. The musicians are Laine Longton (cello), Sarah Kwok (violin), Parmela Attariwala (viola), and Mark Haney (double bass). Also per the liner note, the piece was performed by Red Shift in “complete darkness.” Listen to the recording as the audience did: lights out.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/annacomposer. More from Anna Höstman at annahostman.net.

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Julia Kent Reveals an Unreleased Track

It's 2011 all over again, in a good way.

Been awhile since the cellist Julia Kent had a mention here, and thankfully there’s a new release, providing good reason. “Salt Point” isn’t truly new. It’s one of two previously unreleased tracks that will appear on the forthcoming expanded, vinyl edition of Kent’s 2011 album, Green and Grey, alongside the four tracks off Last Day in July, which came out the year prior to Green and Grey.

“Salt Pond” is a lush slice of what has come to be called neoclassical. That’s an interesting term in how it has transitioned over time. It used to mean sort of the opposite of what it now means. It once meant contemporary work that had obvious roots in the past, work that strove for a semblance to antiquity. Now it tends to mean work that explores the instrumentation and timbres of classical music, but in a distinctly modern manner. In other words, the “neo” has become something of a modifier; what once refuted modernity now embraces it. Often neoclassical means melodic minimalism, which is interesting since minimalism can be understood to stand in contrast with neoclassical.

Anyhow, the terms aside, “Salt Point” is a generous mix of pulsing drones and pointillist strings (Kent is foremost a cellist) that bring to mind the use of delays in dance music, albeit slowed to a lounge’s speed. At its climax, “Salt Point” almost loses itself, beautifully so, in a rapture of echoes. There’s also an official video for the track up on Kent’s YouTube channel, full of images from nature, overlapping and sometimes manipulated, not unlike her cello. It was made by Jola Kudela:

More from Kent at juliakent.com. The album is part of the November 29, 2019, Record Store Day. Details at recordstoreday.com.

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“Some Arranging”

(sign on community bulletin board at burrito shop)

“Some arranging” (sign on community bulletin board at burrito shop)

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New OO-Ray, Slow and Haunted

A track for organ and cello

It’s been around a year or so since Ted Laderas, who plays electronically enhanced music under the name the OO-Ray, last posted something to his SoundCloud account. Or at least it was until this weekend, when we were treated, out of the blue, to “Floe,” a Renaissance-inspired piece for cello and organ. It moves, per the title, at a stately pace, the classical vibe in play against drone-informed, slightly sour and artfully ambivalent tunings.

Longtime listeners of Laderas will be intrigued by the relatively low density of the track. The individual lines are quite distinct, rather than buried in the trademark OO-Ray shoegaze layering. It may be Laderas’ first public recording in some time, but its openness, the way the lines invite attention and seem firm in their individual presence, feels promising and hopeful, even if the piece is, as he describes it, “slow and haunted.”

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/ooray. More from Laderas, who is based in Portland, Oregon, at 15people.net. His most recent album is Tiny Fugues, which came out on the Audiobulb label (audiobulb.com) back in July 2018.

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The Experimental Organ

A recent work by Lauren Redhead, also featuring Alistair Zaldua

Lauren Redhead’s “Phosphorescent” is a composition for organ (herself) in combination with violin and electronics (her collaborator, Alistair Zaldua). This recording was made at the Canterbury Festival last October, and uploaded to Redhead’s account a couple months back. There’s been an explosion in experimental work for organs in recent years, thanks to folks like Anna Von Hausswolff, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Claire M Singer, among others. In Redhead’s piece, the organ and violin congeal to form a treble-rich, soaring-in-slow-motion backdrop of vast spaciousness. Amid this all, Zaldua’s bow is heard to trace an exploratory path, like a satellite zigzagging across the heavens.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/laurenredhead. More from Lauren Redhead, who is based in the United Kingdom, at laurenredhead.eu.

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