This is French composer/pianist Melaine Dalibert's third solo piano album, following his well-received 2018 album 'Musique pour le lever du jour' (elsewhere 002) and 2017 album 'Ressac' (at111). 'Cheminant' contains a diverse array of Dalibert's unique compositions for solo piano, ranging from the up-tempo rhythmic 'Percolations' performed masterfully by Dalibert's right hand, to the slow, prolonged meditative 'Music in an octave' and 'Cheminant', to the kaleidoscopic 'Étude II' with the repetitive hammered chords, and lastly his latest piece 'From zero to infinity' dedicated to post-minimal composer Peter Garland.
All five pieces were composed by Dalibert in 2017-2019, reflecting his current interest in questioning how the harmonic shifts could affect the listening experience with subtly evolving chords through a scale or different tones, creating a similar state to vertigo. Diverse as they may seem, all five pieces attain delicately balanced harmonization of rich layers of the woody, warm direct tones of the piano, overtones and resonances, blended to form a complex harmonic beauty exquisitely delivered with Dalibert's virtuosic piano techniques.
(Release date: June 22, 2019)
Melaine Dalibert (born 1979), a French composer/pianist, has been increasingly recognized for his compositional piano works as well as his interpretations of works by Gérard Pesson, Giuliano D’Angiolini, Tom Johnson, Peter Garland and many others. Trained as a classical pianist in Rennes (where he teaches now), Dalibert studied a large repertoire of contemporary composers' works at the Paris Conservatories. Being involved with experimental music at his young age, Dalibert found a way to compose music through mathematical concepts.
Fascinated by natural phenomena which are both expected and unpredictable, and also inspired by the work of the Hungarian-born French media artist Véra Molnar, Dalibert has developed his own algorithmic procedures of composition which contain the notion of stretched time evoking Morton Feldman, minimal and introspective, adopting a unique concept of fractal series. His piano music has been released on two recordings to date: Quatre pièces pour piano, self-released in 2015, and Ressac, issued by Another Timbre in 2017.
His creations have been radio transmitted (France Musique) and played in many French and foreign museums and contemporary art centers.
1. Music in an octave (2018) 13:15 - for David Sylvian
2. Percolations (for right hand) (2018) 5:30 - for Yuko Zama
3. From zero to infinity (2019) 4:36
4. Cheminant (2018) 21:24 - for Reinier van Houdt
5. Étude II (2017) 11:13
all compositions and piano by Melaine Dalibert
recorded by Herve Jegaden and David Launay at HD Studio in Saint Maugan, Brittany, France in February 2019
mixed and mastered by Taku Unami
mixing advice by David Sylvian
artwork by David Sylvian
design by Yuko Zama
produced by Yuko Zama
special thanks to: David Sylvian and Cyril Jollard
p+c 2019 elsewhere music
Toshiya Tsunoda is a Japanese sound artist whose quarter century of exploration into field recording has been a huge influence on many other great artists working in similar territory. His archival series of three themed sets of field recording studies, released on three different labels from 1997 to 2001, 'Extract From Field Recording Archive #1 - #3”, lay the groundwork for so much of what followed, both from Tsunoda and many others.
All the sounds in the original three releases (#1-#3) were physical vibrations recorded in outdoor and indoor environments from 1993 to 1999, in the port service area in the Miura Peninsula where he was born and grew up, as well as at the neighbor ports.
Also, CD 1-3 are not identical to the originally issued ones. Now all the tracks have exactly the same durations as Tsunoda's original DAT recordings. All the tracks were remastered from these original DAT recordings for this box set. Thus, the duration of each track and each CD are different from the previously released ones. Also, the track lists on Extract #2 (CD 2) and Extract #3 (CD 3) are slightly modified from the original releases, as detailed in the booklet.
In addition to those three, for this reissue box Tsunoda compiled two new albums. CD 4, 'Extract From Field Recording Archive #4', contains his previously unpublished recordings of the Nagaura Port from the same period as #1-#3, and CD 5, 'Reflection-Revisiting', contains more recent recordings from 2007-2018, in which he revisited some of the original port areas, looking for a certain continuity between his ideas in the past and the present, while also discovering the differences between the two periods.
"My purpose for these recordings in the nineties was to observe vibrations, and at the same time to find the observation point for each recording. For some very subtle, inaudible vibrations, a special method of observation such as installing a contact microphone inside a bottle or a particular observation point is required. It can be said that the object of the vibration and the act of observation are inseparable. I think that it is not really 'detection' or 'documenting', but is more likely closer to 'depiction'. The word 'depiction' has a nuance of both watching and portraying an object simultaneously."
"By using small microphones and contact microphones, I tried to detect vibrations that were integrated with the presence of the place, like the vague images existing in the lowest layer of our perception. The space that could be observed in this way was quite different from how we perceive the actual place as a space." (from liner notes by Toshiya Tsunoda)
The extensive liner notes were newly written by Toshiya Tsunoda for this box set and were translated into English for a 44-page Japanese/English booklet.
BOX SET CONTENTS
CD 1: Extract From Field Recording Archive #1 - Vibrations In Stationary State
recorded in 1995-1996 (original release:
CD 2: Extract From Field Recording Archive #2 - The Air Vibration Inside A Hollow
recorded in 1993-1999 (original release: Häpna/Sweden/1999/H.01)
CD 3: Extract From Field Recording Archive #3 - Solid Vibration
recorded in 1995-1999 (original release:
CD 4: Extract From Field Recording Archive #4 - Standing Wave Of Nagaura Port
recorded in 1994-1995
CD 5: Reflection-Revisiting
recorded in 2007-2018
44-page English/Japanese booklet with liner notes by Toshiya Tsunoda (English translation by Yuko Zama) and photographs by Atsushi Tominaga.
recorded and edited by Toshiya Tsunoda from 1993 - 2018
CD 1-3: remastered by Taku Unami and Toshiya Tsunoda with the assistance of Kosuke Numakura (Artes Publishing Inc.)
CD 4: mastered by Taku Unami and Toshiya Tsunoda with the assistance of Makoto Oshiro
CD 5: mastered by Taku Unami and Toshiya Tsunoda
Japanese liner notes by Toshiya Tsunoda
Japanese liner notes checked by Kosuke Numakura
English translation of liner notes by Yuko Zama
booklet edited and designed by Yuko Zama
photography by Atsushi Tominaga
design by Yuko Zama
produced by Jon Abbey and Yuko Zama
p+c 2019 Erstwhile Records
We accept preorder on Bandcamp and direct preorder:
(Release date for 5CD Box Set: May 24, 2019)
5-CD Box Set $65
Digital files + PDF booklet $45
Direct preorder: erstrecs (at) aol (dot) com
“Here we have two artists who are meeting each other at some common middle ground, without losing our identity one bit, but ending up with pieces that would have not being what they are if we didn't set to meet each other halfway.” (GS)
YZ (Yuko Zama): Gil and Lance, can you please tell me how and when the collaboration between you two started?
GS (Gil Sansón): I have been an admirer of Lance's painting before I knew his music. Painting is part of my background. For quite some time I didn't make distinctions between music and painting, pursuing them both with equal passion and commitment. My first actual collaboration with Lance came out when he painted the cover for my release on Makam/Dromos, “Immanence - A life”. João Santos, the head of the label, did some brainstorming with me regarding possible artists for the cover, and we both had Lance at the top of our list. I contacted him and he did a beautiful artwork for my release.
‘Pra Mim’ is not the first score of Lance that I have interpreted. A couple of years ago I participated in Lance's score “Battle Maps, Battle Hymns: The Vast Field of Liberation”, interpreting two pages of the score. The project also included Joda Clément, Bruno Duplant, Lee Noyes, Mathieu Ruhlmann and Lance himself. It came out as a double CD on the US imprint Suppedaneum.
LAO (Lance Austin Olsen): I originally became connected to Gil through Facebook, as annoying as it is in most respects, FB did open the doors to other composers and artists of all types without having to physically travel the world.
I was working with Mathieu Ruhlmann under the name ‘Kiiln’, recording an album for Mathieu’s new label. It had been released and I was interested in hearing any feedback that was happening, Mathieu said Gil Sansón liked it, I was pleased that a composer and musician liked the work.
Fast forward to the ‘Send+ Receive festival’ in Winnipeg where Mathieu and I had been invited to perform that year (2014 I think), we had decided that we should go to Minneapolis at the same time to perform with Jesse Goin’s ‘Crow With No Mouth’ series, I was particularly interested in meeting Jesse due to our parallel interest in Soto Zen and that both of us had been involved in Zen and Zen Meditation for many years. We were also students and followers of some of the same Zen masters.
While staying at Jesse’s he had an album playing, it was an unreleased album by Gil. Meanwhile Gil had shown considerable interest in the paintings that I posted each week and so small conversations began to emerge in an organic fashion. Gil asked if I would be interested in doing a CD cover for his release “Immanence - A life”. I was really honoured to be asked but, not being a graphic artist and totally hopeless at layout, I asked another collaborator and friend Jamie Drouin, that if I supplied the painting, would he turn it into a CD cover, he agreed.
Shortly after that I had been working on a series of small works that seemed to resemble battle maps. These works began to form notions of sound approaches and a way of realizing these as an integrated work using a number of musicians and sound artists. I asked a number of people via email if they would be interested in receiving a couple of images with some text and a time frame to produce 2 x 20 minute works, Gil was one of these artists. I received enough great work to put together 2 CDs and asked Joseph Clayton Mills if he would be interested in listening with the possibility of a release. He did and he released the double CD as “Battle Maps, Battle Hymns: The Vast Field Of Liberation”.
Following this Gil and I continued to talk back and forth, I went to Cuba to perform in the Biennale in Havana and became more interested in Gil’s take on the political situations and how these had affected his own life in Venezuela. I can’t recall how the suggestion of swapping scores came about, just an organic extension of our interests and communications. So, there it is we swapped scores and it began——
YZ: Can you explain a little bit about the four pieces on this double album?
GS: There were two scores: Lance's graphic score 'Pra Mim' and my graphic score 'Meditations' (Meditations on the history of music). What we have here are two interpretations of each score. I used the text that was part of 'Pra Mim' in full on 'Works on Paper' (read by A.F. Jones), and only a sentence on 'Fail Better', and selected two or three pages for each of my interpretations. I think Lance also selected some pages and the suggestions and vague indications of the text part of my score. Lance, in fact, has made four different interpretations of my score, one appearing on his recent CD on Another Timbre, and two on this release on elsewhere.
My score was not intended as a painting or independent artwork. It was conceived with the notion that it would be interpreted by Lance and turned into a piece of music, so in a way it's a proper score, intended to be realized as music.
LAO: I had all the pages of the ‘Meditations’ score and the text suggestions laid around my work space for a long time, being drawn in by this and pushed back by that until I began to work on the realizations, a lot of which would develop in my mind as a result of looking and forgetting and then half remembering. It would be difficult for me to point and say “This is Meditations #1, and this is #2”, etc. since the works developed in an organic fashion as I became more and more familiar with the overall look and feel of the complete score.
GS: I followed a similar approach as Lance did. The difference was that I worked each realization in my mind until I had a clear image in my mind, and then executed them in a relatively short burst. I would think of sonic materials for their color, texture, shape, etc. I could easily extract another interpretation of ‘Pra Mim’, it's a score with a lot of identity and infinite potential. And Lance has proven fully that he can extract a lot of mileage out of my score.
YZ: Lance, what did you think about Gil's graphic scores ‘Meditations’?
LAO: One of the things that happened with seeing the pages of Gil’s score was that, firstly, there was breathing space both on each sheet and between each sheet; and secondly, his use of real world items such as receipts paralleled my use of real world items in both paintings and in scores/recordings.
I was struck by a fragment of a canvas that had painted marks curving across a section of white canvas that began to resemble points of sound to me, and that is how I first approached the reading. I began to lay out points of sound using guitar, amplified ceramic water jug and computer and this became the structure of my first realization that appeared on the Another Timbre release ‘Dark Heart’.
I also love to have some counterpoint that balances or is opposite to these initial sounds. I was intrigued by the underlying sheets of faint text that I could not read, because it was in a language that I did not understand and the organized areas of strong colours, particularly reds that lay across other fainter colours that read as a gentle underlying rhythm.
YZ: How did Gil's graphic scores ‘Meditations’ actually inspire you to realize them into music?
LAO: I had the score sheets laying around the studio for a while and began to realize that I was “meditating” on the paintings, if you will.
I decided that I was going to open the first piece with a field recording of a windstorm that I had experienced in California which had beer cans and doors slamming and a hell of a lot of supermarket receipts blowing all over the area that I was visiting and I had made sure to record this fantastic event. This would be a natural occurrence with its own structure almost as the underlying texts that I could not read had their own structures without my complete understanding.
I tend to make a lot of recordings that I add to my collection for use in the same way as I have tubes of paint of various colours that I use, I do not read musical notation but also I have no idea how paints are made. I collect them and bend them to my purpose of the moment, if you can’t make a painting with a couple of pre made colours you might as well give up.
Gil is very clear with his written instructions, they do not point to specific sounds or notes but clear suggestions such as “Some sound surfaces, some sound gestures, some close, some far, some space or spaces” and also suggestions as to how to read silences and colour intensities. This gives me a very good idea as to his intentions overall without the use of unchangeable specifics.
Gil’s conversations back and forth, which may have nothing to do with scores or recordings also enter my mind as fragments of a thinking man in a difficult situation who continues to work, and this colours my information palette.
Gil also has a great interest in a wide variety of music including a lot of classical works that I also like. I have always tried to situate what I do somewhere between music and “not music” whilst not losing the connection to either and leaving open different possibilities. I hear a similar concern in Gil’s work and our conversations give me encouragement to plow forward into unknown (for me) territory.
Despite all the various readings and approaches to Gil’s score, what happens on an intuitive level is that having the score lying around my studio, and moving it around and generally absorbing the images and text and spaces, and letting these things move around freely in my head, something comes to me from “somewhere”, it is a very intuitive but positive feeling that this is the direction for this work.
YZ: Gil, do you feel a strong or close connection with Lance and his paintings to yourself? And if so, what do you think it is?
GS: Over the years I kept thinking about how much we had in common as artists, as I got to know his music, and saw all the threads that communicated between the visual and sound aspects of his work, which I could very much relate to. One day we just said, "It's about time we do something together!" He had this graphic score ‘Pra Mim’, and I connected with it immediately on an instinctive way. You could say that I started hearing sounds and sound relationships as soon as I dived in into the score, and this in turn made me think about doing the same, writing a graphic score for him to respond to.
Normally, I am somewhat weary of this way of working; I see it as an easy way out of some of the actual problems of composing music and a bit of an abdication of responsibility, but in Lance's case it actually felt like the best course of action, a proper way to reconcile with my past as a visual artist. In a very real way, I feel I don't have to paint anymore, since Lance is doing such a good job with it. As an artist, I try to make a difference, and this makes me move over quickly when I see that an area of interest is becoming somewhat popular, and then I move over to another, less travelled area.
There are indeed many secret (or perhaps not self evident at first) connections between our works, because here we have two artists who are meeting each other at some common middle ground, without losing our identity one bit, but ending up with pieces that would have not being what they are if we didn't set to meet each other halfway, so this was a process of discovery and of venturing past comfort zones.
YZ: How did (and do) Lance's paintings and his presence as your collaborator affect you for making music? Also, what are the natures or ideas of Lance's paintings (particularly Pra Mim) that inspired you to realize his paintings into music?
GS: This work with Lance allows me to tackle different problems than, say, a piano piece. We move in a gray area, where things are not carved in stone, where instinct plays a much bigger role. At the same time, I wanted to explore musical correspondences between the images and the sounds. Notions like plasticity became much more important than, say, formal structuring devices and the whole process of this collaboration felt like breaking new ground, at least personally. Notions like filigree, gesture, washout, color, these became crucial to my conception when working my pieces.
Also, the text Lance included on the score became paramount, suggesting many moods and subtleties, even adding some element of irony which I like very much. I had many paradigms in mind when working on my realizations: Fluxus, Cardew, Cage, but also the history of music and the history of art. I don't put these in hierarchies when I'm working, instead I let them roam free in my mind and observe the sparks when these elements coalesce into something that has possibilities of becoming concrete. There are so many layers on my two realizations, though this is perhaps more obvious in ‘Works on Paper’.
‘Fail Better’ feels to me like a very long, freeform song, but in ‘Works on Paper’ there's many relations and layers of content, musical, painterly and philosophical. The listener doesn't have to be aware of these, but they definitely play a very important part in the discourse of the piece.
YZ: Did you study art and painting as your background in your early days? I am just curious how deep you were involved with painting before you became to be interested in making music.
GS: About my academic background: I have none. I'm self taught in painting, drawing, writing and making music. In my mind, this is the best course of action for a person like myself, who's only competing with his own mediocrity. The way I see it, if you don't pursue formal education but still have a more or less clear idea of what you want to do, you can keep studying, while say, graduating from the academy can give you the wrong idea that you already know everything you need to know to pursue your craft, and I strongly believe that you never know enough, regardless of any accolades you might be getting, and it's best to keep studying all your life.
Every day I learn something new about my craft, on my own terms. Knowledge becomes something to strive for, not a milestone but more like the always receding horizon. You never learn all that is there to learn, but at least each day you're a bit less ignorant than yesterday. To be clear: among the things I've learned on my own, reading and writing music are essential to my music making: I no longer rely on my memory to play my music, I no longer rely on the instruments I can play, and so on.
Music is so vast that I want to have as many ways of organizing sound as I can. I see no contradiction between improvised music and written music, at least I hear the same composer's influences, with the same personality traits, both on my more formally structured music as I do in my more "experimental" stuff. I strive for beauty in both. You can make music that is both radically modern without sacrificing the idea of beauty, which to me remains essential and grounds me in the centuries old tradition of western classical music, so dear to me since I was a child.
YZ: Your country (Venezuela) has been suffering a big crisis these days. How do you feel the current political, economic, social and all the other situations of your country affect your creative activities (or creative mind) as an artist?
GS: As a matter of fact, I'm a very proud person and the last thing I want is to be perceived as a victim. I'm also quite stubborn and I’m sticking to my aesthetic agenda and refusing to turn to politics in my work, because I don't want my work to be reactive, but quite the contrary, I want my work to be an act of affirmation. In that sense, my work can be seen as political, because is the expression of my resistance. I have paid this stance by being blacklisted, but I refuse to take my work to their court.
My activities have found many obstacles, from the government and from the private sector, under constant threat from the Maduro regime, and thus extremely cautious and playing safe in order to survive. Also, my music has a limited appeal, since it doesn't cater to the establishment, which prefers styles of music that have proven to be popular, plus my music offers little in terms of showmanship or virtuoso playing, has little overt drama, etc.
It is the fact that my work has found sympathetic ears abroad that has made me focus on my "international" career and reputation (the situation at home means I am unable to tour and promote my work as I would like to, making me dependent on records and long distance collaborations), and in this regard I have to say that I've been very lucky. I've found much appreciation among musicians and selected critics. In particular, people like Antoine Beuger, Jürg Frey, Manfred Werder, Michael Pisaro, Eva-Maria Houben, Bruno Duplant, Lance Olsen, Alan Jones, Cristian Alvear, Simon Reynell, and many others, have shown me constant support and feedback. I owe them a great deal of gratitude and I hope to be able to pay it forward when I can.
YZ: In your graphic scores ‘Meditations’ and also your realizations of Lance’s scores of ‘Pra Mim’, I found a sense of 'urgency' that feels to resonate with the darkness of the social climate surrounding you, yet in a great balance between a pure desire for artistic creativity and the reality of where you live in (or a balance between detachment and involvement), which seemed to expose and extract the ultimate beauty in a bare form. It is not just an emotional outburst, but also has some objective tranquility like a philosophical attitude. Of course, my observations are based on a complete outsider's view, but how do you feel this relation (or influence) between your works (or your focus on creative works) and the current surrounding situation?
GS: You are very perceptive in that beauty reaches an existential dimension in the midst of the horror, and it becomes an imperative, a strategy for survival in the spiritual sense. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to present a concert of Wandelweiser music here in Caracas, with works by Beuger, Houben, Wolff and myself, and the response from the public was very gratifying. People told me how delighted they were to be able to enjoy an hour of peace, quiet and considered small sounds, in a city as violent as ours.
This is where I can consider the political dimension of what I do in a positive light, because it's not about telling anyone what to think, we simply offer our music, with care and respect for the audience, and we think that this music is for everyone who shows interest, not just record collectors and people "in the know". No one came after the concert asking to buy CDs, but the comments and feedback showed deep gratitude, and this is the most important thing for me. During that hour there was no Maduro, no armed gangs, no heated political discourse, no stress. People could hear both the music and the sounds from the environment, without making judgements, just being there with the sounds, in a very real utopia for the duration of the program.
The balance between detachment and involvement, as you point out, is essential in order to avoid excessive drama and pathos, which in my opinion hinder the music and can turn expression into spectacle or illustration. When the music is self contained in discourse, I’ve found, it can find its audience without compromising itself and without imposing an agenda on the listener. It may been existential imperative for me, but I believe the music is not about my personal (and collective) ordeal. At the most, I would say that the hardships have only shown me that my commitment is for real and no amount of political repression and abuse can move me from the path I have chosen. I would be far more productive if my country was free, politically and economically, but the situation, as dire as it is, has not stopped me from trying my best and the work itself is its own reward, however limited my resources would be at the moment. I'm lucky in that the work keeps me from falling into depression, primarily because I believe my best work is ahead of me and I’m always learning.
YZ: How do you feel about the result of this double collaboration CD of you two?
GS: There is a conceptual unity to the four pieces that I like very much. The double CD release form seems much more than justified here. Also I think that the four pieces do not shy from expressing emotion, the music does not sound like conceptual music at any time. In the sense of experimental music, neither of us could have predicted the outcome at first, but we did have the feeling that it was going to work. We are both really proud of the results, and we can also see new projects in the horizon, no doubt with more experimenting and higher stakes.
Our collaboration is still ongoing and pointing to new and exciting places. If I didn't work at my current slow pace I would probably be already deep into it, but even at my current snail's pace I can already see new adventures ahead. Right now, I'm organizing my thoughts after studying Lance's new score.
LAO: Well, I think the whole process was a lot of fun in the end and the works themselves blend together so well as Gil says, there is a conceptual unity to the whole project. What amazes me was that once I had Gil’s score I set about realizing the works and never once asked him “How does this sound to you?” I just did what I did based on what he had sent me, then sent him the finished files.
I think the resulting 2CD set is work to be proud of and that includes the layout and production of the complete package. Gil and I have other work cooking in our heads and from my point of view taking a big leap forward is something that I am looking forward to.
YZ: I have one more additional question which I was meant to ask you earlier. Both of you used short excerpts of other musicians' recordings or compositions as samples in the first track of the two discs: Pra Mim #2 and Meditations #3. I was impressed with how organically each excerpt of music was incorporated as a subtle (and sometimes hidden) component of the entire piece, to create an exquisite balance between elegance and rawness (or tranquility and disquietness). These samples made each piece a memorable collage of sounds in which all the components seemed to be indispensable. How did you decide to use these particular musicians' performances and compositions as samples in your pieces? Or, what was your intention of using those samples in these particular pieces?
LAO: It is a complicated question for which I have no definitive answer, as a painter I tend to view everything as one form of painting or another, whether using visual pigments or audio pigments (sounds). As I am not a musician that plays any instrument in a traditional or logical fashion I have to rely on my intuition and experience with collected sounds, created sounds in the studio that were not necessarily created for a particular piece, and collaging these elements into a work that is more that the sum of the pieces.
All these elements go into my sound palette in the same way that tubes of paints sit around waiting for me to call on them, and I use the same tubes of paints for pretty much every painting. The idea is that I should be able to produce an endless amount of works using the same few elements but the works are always different and travel along trajectories that slowly change as I work and age and see things slightly differently.
With regard to the ‘Meditations’ series, I had already produced the first “Meditation on the History of Painting” in which I had been looking for a ‘meditative’ element and I had come across a collection of wax cylinder sounds that I had collected a few years back. One of the pieces was a traditional hymn and once I had pitched it down and in combination with the noise of the ancient recording technique, I found that it suited the overall work perfectly. It acted as a counterpoint for my guitar sounds and my chopped up modern speaking voice. Put together these elements became something much more than the whole and it sounded to me as Gil’s score looked to me.
When it came to the second and third realization I wanted to follow this same trajectory but not produce an additional 30 minutes of the same thing. It was important that they all related since they all came from different viewpoints of the same score. I had decided to use a wax cylinder recording again which would supply the meditative element as similar to, but not the same as the first realization (Meditation on the History of Painting) I had both new realizations pretty much done to my liking but I was looking for something else that had some strong relationship to events in Venezuela as well as being strongly tied to the realization from Gil’s score.
I was going through my files and I saw the file marked “Craig’s Stroke-not used” The work “Craig’s Stroke” was finished and mastered although not released so these files would never be used for what they were intended for. My method is to never throw anything out particularly my recordings based on my scores and I am also comfortable folding other of my works into new works as I do in visual collage. I came to the short piece with John Luna saying “Hit me” and some nice organ moments from Debora Alanna. I knew instantly that this was the perfect finishing touch.
As I said before a lot of this is intuitive and since my working method is mostly collage built around an initial concept, I am open to suddenly hearing the last element for an almost finished work in unusual places.
GS: The reasons that made me use samples for this piece are manifold. Some are practical, some are deliberate. The practical reasons had to do with my limited means of soundmaking at the time: it's very likely that I would have played everything myself if I had the proper means. Not having that possibility, I had to do it "with a little help from my friends", so to speak. I was already well prepared, from a technical and aesthetic point of view, after my piece ‘Untitled (for Pierre Boulez)’, which was made out of samples from the music of Boulez for the most part.
My conception for ‘Works on Paper’ involved many sound sources, the piano being one of them. At the same time I didn't want to sample other people's music for this element, so using snippets of my own compositions, as played by Dante Boon, seemed the logical thing to do. The other sample in the piece is ‘Hier Ist Friede’, the last of the Altenberg Lieder by Alban Berg, a composer that is very dear to me.
When compiling materials for my realization, I recycled a piece I did for an unrelated event, selecting fragments that were already composed, so the sample appears along my own playing of the cello (my skills on this instrument being extremely modest) and later on by Dante's. In the context of a score like Pra Mim, a sample is more of a found object, much like a Lucky Strike cigarette package in a Robert Motherwell's collage, it's not really appropriation, it's much more related to collage aesthetics. Lance often uses photographs as elements inserted in his paintings, integrating them by not integrating them, in a manner of speech. I think also about the phenomenon of quotation, that's so common in classical music, Berg being a very good example, as he used quotation to great effect in some of his music, like the Violin Concerto or the Lyric Suite, so perhaps there's an element of commentary in a historical sense. All of these thoughts, however, are an afterthought, since my preoccupations while devising my realization tended to avoid the written language with all that it entails, and went for a strategy of thinking in images, and to translate visual images to sound images.
As I said, my current situation forces me to work with the bare minimum when it comes to resources, proper recordings, etc. At the same time, I am very lucky to have the support of many great artists and an ongoing dialogue with them that doesn't always finds its way into a recording, so there's an element of autobiography, perhaps, in some of the contributions and samples, for example, the fragment of ‘Monodies pour Mallarmé’ by Antoine Beuger, a piece I play often on melodica, and that I've programmed in concert here in Caracas, alongside Anna Rosa Rodriguez on voice. It's a piece that means a lot to me and that always seem to create its own space around it. At some point, it seemed a perfect fit for the longest piece, ‘Works on Paper’, and I selected a few fragments of a live recording we made in 2017. Like I said, I have an ongoing dialogue with Antoine Beuger, one that has produced some music on my part and much encouragement from his part. I owe my friends in the community a great deal, and this somehow reflects in the music, in sometimes obvious and not so obvious ways.
A similar case happens with Dante Boon, who was the first pianist of renown to inquire about my piano music, and for whom I wrote two piano pieces. He plays my music with great sensibility and insight and I feel fortunate that he has engaged with my music in such a sensitive way. I think, in retrospect, that this friendship in music seeped into ‘Works on Paper’, as the limitations I encountered when realizing Lance's score a second time pointed me towards a more humble stance, one that recognizes that I wouldn't get too far without these musical friendships, which are a real lifeline and that I don't want to disguise anymore. It's an ongoing dialogue that I hope to keep and nurture, and that goes beyond sampling or quoting. In this sense, I'm as grateful to Dante, Alan and Antoine as I am to Alban Berg, but of course the dialogue with the artists that are active today is much more dynamic and unpredictable.
(Interview conducted by Yuko Zama, December 2018 - March 2019)
Gil Sansón / Lance Austin Olsen - Works on Paper (elsewhere 006-2) is now available at the label's website (2CD, lossless digital 16/44, HD FLAC 24/96), Bandcamp (2CD, Lossless Digital 16/44, streaming), Downtown Music Gallery (NYC), ftarri shop (Japan), and Metamkine (Europe).
Venezuelan-based composer/artist Gil Sansón and Canadian-based composer/painter Lance Austin Olsen began to work closely together via long distance in 2014. Their collaboration initially began when Olsen painted the CD cover of Sansón's release 'Immanence, A Life' (Makam 003) in 2015. Sharing a similar aesthetic in art and music with deep respect and understanding of each other's work, the two soon started to make music in collaboration through realizations of each other's graphic scores or paintings.
Their first collaborative piece 'A Meditation on the History of Painting (2017)' was published as one of the four tracks of Olsen's notable 2018 release 'Dark Heart' on Another Timbre label. Their collaborative relationship has been rapidly flourishing and deepened with intensity since then. Subsequently, Sansón and Olsen recorded four new collaboration pieces in 2017-2018: two variations of the interpretation of Olsen's painting/
Sansón said, "At some level, I find no distinction between painting and sound making. The processes are similar in essence and they seem to come from the same place. In the case of Lance's paintings, I find a great example of this. He is able to switch mediums and combine them as if there were no actual distinction. I believe the idea that you can make music that is both radically modern without sacrificing the idea of beauty, which to me remains essential and grounds me in the centuries-old tradition of Western classical music, so dear to me since I was a child."
Their realizations are exquisitely layered collages of sparse sounds of musical instruments, objects, electronics, field recordings, voices, and fragments of their past compositions and early classical music as samples, creating an open, profound expansion of the horizon of the music. The intense, vibrant raw energy and graceful beauty immanent in both artists’ pieces are organically integrated into one whole album, forming an epic arch that connects the inner worlds of the two artists poignantly yet meditatively.
The double CD is a limited edition of 500. Besides CD format, digital HD FLAC 24/96 files are available on the label's website, as well as CDs and lossless files on Bandcamp. (We accept CD preorders on both sites.)
(Release date: January 29, 2019)
Lance Austin Olsen (born 1943, London, UK) has represented Canada in a number of international biennials with his large-scale painting and drawings, which have been shown extensively in Canada and Europe. His working method is uniform across all of his mediums: a surface is endlessly reworked, with each subsequent piece forming a record or narrative of ongoing discovery. Often in recordings, sections of completed works are folded into new works in the same way that fragments of older paintings and drawings can be added into new paintings as a collaged element. Through this
Olsen began working with sound in 1997 when he met the young artist Jamie Drouin, with whom he has continued to collaborate, releasing limited edition small run albums on their label Infrequency. Through this small label many contacts have been made with other musicians and composers that have formed alliances and new improvising
Olsen started painting at the age of 15, when he entered London’s Camberwell Art School, studying under well-known contemporary artists Frank Auerbach, Euan Uglow
Gil Sansón (born 1970) is a Caracas-based self-taught composer whose musical origins are in rock,
CD 1: Gil Sansón (realized and recorded in Caracas, Venezuela, 2017-2018)
1. Pra Mim #2 - Works on Paper (Lance Austin Olsen, 2016) 36:26
2. Pra Mim #1 - Fail Better (Lance Austin Olsen, 2016) 26:14
CD 2: Lance Austin Olsen (realized and recorded in Victoria BC, Canada, 2017-2018)
1. Meditations #3 (Gil Sansón, 2017) 28:30
2. Meditations #2 (Gil Sansón, 2017) 26:10
Pra Mim #2 - Works on Paper
Gil Sansón (acoustic guitar, melodica, violoncello, electronics, objects, field recordings), A. F. Jones (spoken voice). Samples include: excerpts from Sansón's Untitled (for Antoine Beuger) and Untitled (for Annmarie Mattioli), performed by Dante Boon (piano); excerpts from Antoine Beuger's Monodies pour Mallarmé, performed by Anna Rosa Rodriguez (soprano voice) and Gil Sansón (melodica)
Pra Mim #1 - Fail Better
Gil Sansón (voice, unplugged and plugged electric guitar, melodica, objects, electronics, field recordings)
Lance Austin Olsen (guitar,
Lance Austin Olsen (guitar, amplified objects)
mastered by Taku Unami
inside graphic scores Pra Mim by Lance Austin Olsen (left) and Meditations by Gil Sansón (right)
produced and designed by Yuko Zama
p+c 2019 elsewhere music
I am still catching up with listening to this year's releases one by one, and besides the list below, there are some more recent discs that I did not have a chance to check out yet but am looking forward to listening to when I have more time next year, then perhaps I may make another list as Part 2. But for now, these fourteen recordings are so far my favorites from this year. I omitted the five releases from my own label elsewhere although all of them are my favorites of the year as well. My personal favorite is MusicAeterna under Teodor Currentzis - Mahler: Symphony No. 6 (Sony Classical).
(in alphabetical order)
Pierre-Laurent Aimard - Messiaen: Catalogue
Sergei Dogadin / Nikolai Tokarev - Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Sonata in G Major & 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (Arr. for Violin & Piano) (Naxos 8573753)
English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir under John Eliot Gardiner - Monteverdi: Il
Morgan Evans-Weiler - iterations & environments (rhizome.s #23)
Jürg Frey & Magnus Granberg - Early to Late (at121)
Eva-Maria Houben - Erik Carlson / Greg Stuart – Duos (digital self-release)
Kukuruz Quartet (Philip Bartels: piano, Duri Collenberg: piano, Simone Keller: piano, Lukas Rickli: piano) - Julius Eastman Piano Interpretations (Intakt306)
MusicAeterna under Teodor Currentzis - Mahler: Symphony No. 6 (Sony Classical)
Lance Austin Olsen - Dark Heart (at128)
Michael Pisaro - Étant donnés (gw014)
Teodora Stepančić / Assaf Gidron / Martin Lorenz – Michael Pisaro: Concentric Rings In Magnetic Levitation (Dumpf 10)
John Tilbury / Keith Rowe / Kjell Bjørgeengen - Sissel (SOFA563)
Christian Wolff / Antoine Beuger – Where Are We Going, Today (ERST083)
2018 has been quite a busy year for me with so much producing work for my newly launched elsewhere label, in addition to the design works for Erstwhile Records and Gravity Wave, so I barely had a chance to listen to this year's releases on other labels besides our own. I must say, I love all the elsewhere titles which I have listened to numerous times during each production and these titles are definitely my favorite releases of 2018. But I am also looking forward to listening to other labels' releases one by one, perhaps later next year when I have more time.
Meanwhile, I made a list of the concerts I went to in the NYC area this year and was particularly impressed with. Among them, there were eight performances that were most memorable, which you can see under the long list of 22. If I had to pick one performance from the list as my best live music experience of 2018, I would pick Seth Parker Woods' premiere performance of Jürg Frey's 'Sounds Sing Themselves' (2018) at ARETÉ, NYC on December 13. It was the quietest and subtlest yet the most profound and moving music that I heard this year.
There were some other exciting concerts that I was looking forward to attending but could not make it due to my busy work schedule, etc., which I really regret, but I hope to have a chance to hear those musicians again in the coming years.
22 Memorable Live Performances of 2018
Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer with Dénes Várjon (piano) (David Geffen Hall, NYC 1/14)
Bach - Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067 / Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 / Rachmaninoff - Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27
The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst (Carnegie Hall, NYC 1/23, 1/24)
Johannes Maria Staud - Stromab (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall) / Mahler - Symphony No. 9 / Haydn - The Seasons
Melaine Dalibert piano recital (Daniel Goode's Loft, NYC 1/27)
Peter Garland - The Days Run Away (1971) / Michael Vincent Waller - Bounding (2017), Cyclone (2018), For Pauline (2016), Roman (2017), Return from L.A. (2018) / Melaine Dalibert - Musique pour le lever du jour (2017)
Ryoko Akama + Anne-F Jacques (Experimental Intermedia Foundation, NYC 1/29)
Stephen Hough piano recital (Carnegie Hall, NYC 1/30)
Debussy "Clair de lune" from Suite
Schumann - Fantasy in C Major
Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata"
Mitsuko Uchida piano recital (Carnegie Hall, NYC 2/26)
ALL-SCHUBERT PROGRAM: Piano Sonata in C Minor, D. 958 (No. 21) / Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 664 (No. 13) / Piano Sonata in G Major, D. 894 (No. 18)
Boston Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano) (Carnegie Hall, NYC 4/11)
Bernstein - Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety"
Seth Parker Woods (cello) with Ashleigh Gordon (viola) (The Italian Academy, NYC 4/18)
Giacinto Scelsi - Maknongan (1976) / Claudio Gabriele -
London Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle (David Geffen Hall, NYC 5/4, 5/7)
Mahler - Symphony No. 9 / Mahler - Symphony No. 10 (completed by Deryck Cooke)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons (Carnegie Hall, NYC 5/5)
Mahler - Symphony No. 7
Vanessa Rossetto (Issue Project Room, NYC 5/12)
The Dirt (accompanied by a short film by Matthew Revert)
The MET Orchestra under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, with Anita Rachvelishvili (mezzo-soprano) (Carnegie Hall, NYC 5/18)
Debussy - Prélude à l'après-midi
Reinier van Houdt piano recital (Spectrum, NYC 6/14)
Michael Pisaro - Green Hour, Grey Future (2015)
International Contemporary Ensemble / Greg Stuart (percussions) (David Rubenstein Atrium, NYC 8/9)
Michael Pisaro - A wave and waves (2007)
Bozzini Quartet (Clemens Merkel - violin, Alissa Cheung - violin, Stéphanie Bozzini - viola, Isabelle Bozzini - cello) (DiMenna Center for Classical Music, NYC 8/14)
Cassandra Miller - About Bach (2015), Linda Catlin Smith - Folkestone (1999)
San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, with Leonidas Kavakos (violin) (Carnegie Hall, NYC 10/4)
ALL-STRAVINSKY PROGRAM: Pétrouchka (1947 version), Violin Concerto, Le
Keith Rowe: Extended (Glassbox Performance Space, The New School, NYC 10/13)
Stile Antico (Church of St. Mary the Virgin, NYC 10/13)
Elizabeth I, Queen of Muses (William Byrd, John Dowland, John Farmer, Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder,
Meridian (Tim Feeney/Sarah Hennies/Greg Stuart) (Project-Q, NYC 10/27)
Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev (Carnegie Hall, NYC 10/31)
Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker (concert performance)
Seth Parker Woods cello solo concert (ARETÉ, NYC 12/13)
Giacinto Scelsi - Maknongan (1976) for any bass instrument / Oliver Thurley - Khepri (2017/18) for solo cello / Nathalie Joachim - Dam Mwen Yo (2017) / Jürg Frey - Sounds Sing Themselves (2018) WP / Monty Adkins - Winter Tendrils (2015) for cello and tape / Giacinto Scelsi - Triphon: Jeunesse, Energie (1975)
OTHER (Live Streaming)
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim, with Miriam Manasherov (viola) and (cello) (Carnegie Hall, NYC 11/8)
R. Strauss - Don Quixote / Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 5
8 Most Memorable Performances of 2018
Melaine Dalibert - Musique pour le lever du jour (2017) (Daniel Goode's Loft, 1/27)
Mitsuko Uchida: Schubert - Piano Sonata in G Major, D. 894 (No. 18) (Carnegie Hall, 2/26)
London Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle: Mahler - Symphony No. 9 (David Geffen Hall, 5/4)
The MET Orchestra under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla: Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 (Carnegie Hall, 5/18)
International Contemporary Ensemble / Greg Stuart (percussions): Michael Pisaro - A wave and waves (2007) (David Rubenstein Atrium, Lincoln Center, 8/9)
Keith Rowe - Extended (improvisation) (Glassbox Performance Space, The New School, 10/13)
Seth Parker Woods: Jürg Frey - Sounds Sing Themselves (2018) (ARETÉ, 12/13)
"I think the question is not ‘how to get it’, but ‘how not to destroy the openness’ when we compose."
YZ (Yuko Zama): I listened to your two recordings of 60 Pieces of Sound and L'âme est sans retenue II in a row, and the experience was fascinating. After listening to the instrumental ensemble of 60 Pieces of Sound, the layers of the field recording sounds in the latter piece sounded like harmonious music to me. It was similar to what I have experienced when I listened to your 6-hour piece L'âme est sans retenue I (
JF (Jürg Frey): Yes, 60 Pieces of Sound and L'âme est sans retenue II are sounding in a profound neighborhood, and I'm very happy to have the two pieces on the same disc.
YZ: Can you tell me how you came up with the idea of putting these two pieces together on one CD?
JF: Last November, we recorded a couple of pieces including 60 Pieces of Sound with the musicians of Ordinary
Jürg Frey and Ordinary Affects (Morgan Evans-Weiler, Luke Martin, Laura
YZ: When you composed (or conceived the initial idea of) 60 Pieces of Sound, did you have a similar concept or structure of L'âme est sans retenue II in your mind, intending to make these two pieces related to each other, by similarly applying the idea of 60 pieces of sound? Or was it more like a coincidence for you to come up with the idea; one for the sounds of field recordings + your clarinet, and the other for a chamber ensemble + your clarinet? I am curious if it was your original intention to relate these two pieces from the beginning, or if you found the connection later?
JF: When I wrote 60 Pieces of Sound, I did not have L'âme est sans retenue II in particular in mind. There was a 10-year interval between the two pieces. I see this work (L'âme est sans retenue II) in the context of my work with ‘lists’, starting in
YZ: How did you apply the idea of a ‘list’ to compose 60 Pieces of Sound?
JF: Over the course of years, the idea of a pure list extended more and more to the list that makes connections of items with each other (what means melody). And 60 Pieces of Sound has a list in the background as a two-part melody. I remember I was at the time working very hard to find an instrumentation, harmonization, color expansion to open this two-part melody/list, but without good results. And then I decided to keep the two-part and to add a third voice, an open instrumentation part for any instrument(s) or sound maker(s). I was immediately pleased how good this score looks like, but not just this good-looking score with the three voices, also the possibilities for different realizations opening in a wide range of performances in the right way was exactly what I was looking for.
Jürg Frey (photo © Alannagh Brennan)
YZ: It is quite fascinating to imagine how your score of 60 Pieces of Sound could make each performance unpredictable and surprising with the potential to induce different harmonization with the open 'third voice' (of three instruments in this recording), while having the very subtle, minimal development of the almost unrecognizable existence of a written melody played on two instruments. It also resonates with the subsequent piece L'âme est sans retenue II, and I can 'hear' the residual images of the sounds and harmonies half-formed in my mind as a part of my memory, which immediately
JF: Thanks for these insightful thoughts about harmonization and openness, and I appreciate your remark about the dialogue and the interference between the two pieces. I feel this CD and these two pieces as a fundamental basis of my feelings and my composing, and even if my music later discovered other territories, I think my recent music connects with this pair of two works.
YZ: One thing I really like about 60 Pieces of Sound is the ‘openness.’ The 'openness' is very important for my listening experience whatever the music it is (especially when it comes to contemporary classical music), since it is the area where I could relate to the music while still being myself, breathing the air in my own rhythm and space, inspired for a further development of the music (in my mind) to relate myself to the music in somewhere half-way from the actual music to elsewhere, not in the limited realm of the composer's score. Thoroughly and precisely structured compositions can be very beautiful, but also often make me feel uncomfortable with its rigidity, however impeccably composed and performed the piece is.
Meanwhile, the minimal involvement of the harmonic elements in your 60 Pieces of Sound makes the music open and free for each listener's perception of the 'music', which partly formed in his/her mind with the help of faintly appearing and diminishing fragments of dissonant/consonant harmonies. They also grow in the subsequent silence and also in the following section of sound, with a discrete accumulation of the translucent memories of sounds and harmonies. I think this phenomenon of the ‘vague yet complex harmonization’ induced and formed in an open space (or the listener’s mind) is quite fascinating.
JF: I'm glad to say something about it. It's a fundamental issue. How can we get this openness? I think the question is not ‘how to get it’, but ‘how not to destroy the openness’ when we compose. The openness is already
(1st page of the score to the two-part melody of Jürg Frey - 60 Pieces of Sound)
YZ: By the way, I have been playing the two-part melody of your score of 60 Pieces of Sound on piano. It is such a haunting, beautiful melody. I played it in different tempos; moderate, slow, very slow with silences between notes. I found that the two-part melody evokes a profound world of beauty especially when it is played very slow with silences between, as if a meditative yet substantial space was expanding around each set of two notes, gradually changing its color and temperature over the time like slowly descending in a spiral. Each set of two notes has a vertical, contemplating depth (which reminded me of your solo piano pieces), but as a whole, all 60 pieces of the two-part melody are closely connected to create one beautiful, organic flow. This melody is almost unrecognizable when listening to the recording of five musicians, with a long break of silence between sections, but starts to form a half-translucent, ‘ghostly’ image of a faint harmony after listening to the whole piece several times. A hint of harmony is more evocative and haunting than a clearly recognizable harmony. It could induce various possible images in the listener’s mind, like a forest of trees in different colors and different shadows yet closely united as a whole via the invisible thread of the mysterious two-part melody deep underneath.
JF: I like your thoughts about the two-parts melody and the experiences when you play it. Not necessary to mention how many times I played this melody for myself...
YZ: Another intriguing thing about 60 Pieces of Sound is that the trace of a harmony in the group ensemble feels not always exactly the same as the written two-part melody in the score. The two-part melody could become a 'trigger' to bring out more variations of harmonies in the resulting music, making the music richer, more pliable, unpredictable, and variable in different ways depending on who would play in the ensemble. It is such a minimal yet perfectly balanced composition with an ideal 'openness', which would also never fall into an incoherent realization out of the right context due to the basic core
JF: You said, "the two-part melody could become a 'trigger' to bring out more variations of harmonies in the resulted music", and this was the key, at a time when I was blocked with the piece. I tried at that time to write different instrumentations and more or less complex chords with the two-part in the background, to elaborate this and that, but things became blurry and blurrier, the two-parts were disturbed or destroyed or stupidly exposed, no good results.
And then I learned, okay, it's the other way around, and I don't have to load the two-part with my ideas, but the two-part can be the trigger to bring out all these things I was looking for. (These are, by the way, good moments in the life of a composer: after going and working for months in a direction, and then, at some point, to see, it's the other way around. It's just simple, I have to change the direction of thinking and working, and then I have it).
YZ: In the 'open instrumentation part’ beside the cello and your clarinet in 60 Pieces of Sound, are the "third voice" musicians tried to form ‘a chord’ in each section in his/her own way by reference to the two-part melody? Or was it supposed to be totally open and free for each musician to play whatever pitch or sound (without considering to form a chord/harmony in mind)?
JF: In principle, it is a free decision for each musician, they may choose any sound, pitch, or noise. At the same time, every musician is supposed to act within the context of the two-part melody, and every decision for this or that is in relation to the two-part. You can try the similar experience when you play the two-part and add a third pitch on piano. Apart from the fact that there are limitations due to the span of the hand, you will see your decisions are completely woven into the given structure of the two-part melody. With three musicians playing the third voice, these decisions are less crucial, also less momentous, because the chord is somehow misty and the single decision is integrated into the overall sound.
YZ: Did the ‘third voice’ musicians discuss with each other (and also with the musicians playing the two-part melody) about what pitch (or sound) to play before they actually performed together, to try to bring a certain unity in each chord section? Or did they not know what kind of pitch or sound other ‘third voice’ members of the ensemble would play until they were actually performing the piece? In other words, was there any pre-arrangement among the ensemble musicians in the way they formed each chord for 60 sections?
JF: There was never either any discussion or pre-arrangement during the rehearsal, nor after the concerts nor during the recording. I think it was also a great luck for me to work with such an ensemble of good musicians, composers, who are used to listening, too.
YZ: Did the ensemble play exactly the same sounds in each concert and rehearsal in Boston and Wesleyan last November? Or did they play different sounds (pitches) each time?
JF: Different sounds. Again, the main thing is to listen and to react with sensitivity to what is going on. Then discussions were not necessary.
YZ: I love the way each chord sounds slightly 'off' without forming a perfect tonal balance in this recording of Ordinary
JF: I think, it's also the "sound of the ensemble". You hear the interests of the group in sound, harmony, the experience with overtones, the sensitivity for tunings. And for this piece (and my music in general), it's definitely a stroke of luck.
(above: a sketch for L’âme est sans retenue II-4)
YZ: I would like to ask you some more questions about L'âme est sans retenue II. When you composed and edited this piece incorporating with the sounds of a bass clarinet, did you intend to induce 'harmonization' in a similar way as in 60 Pieces of Sound, by adding a bass clarinet minimally relating to the field recording sound materials, in addition to your concept of the list of ‘words’? The other two pieces of the series (I and III) were composed without musical instruments, so I wonder if you intended to make a bass clarinet to 'bind' the fragments of the field recording sounds into a vaguely harmonious group via the least minimum interaction of a musical instrument?
JF: It was exactly how you described the procedure. It was an empirical procedure. I tried out the bass clarinet sounds for every field recording till I found the exact pitch and volume to blend with the recording. I wanted to sharpen the harmonization that I had already heard in the recording, to add a fundamental tone, a dissonant or consonant sound to clarify the dust of harmonies and slightly to give him a ‘direction’. To find these pitches, it was the work of the ear.
YZ: In L'âme est sans retenue II, did you play bass clarinet from the start to the end in every 60 group of sounds, with no break (except the silence part) like you did in 60 Pieces of Sound? I could not tell that since it sounded almost unrecognizable in some parts.
JF: Yes, every sound is with bass clarinet. Sometimes it is nearly inaudible. That’s right, you might hear it as if you were hearing just the field recording. The acoustic situation here is similar to the live performance, but then you see the player playing, also when I play extremely soft. For the editing we discussed the question of the bass clarinet volume, the goal was to avoid in any case making the field recording to sound some kind of accompaniment of the ‘soloist’, and to have the bass clarinet as much as possible as a part of the field recording, like hearing the bass clarinet sounds inside, sitting inside the field recording.
YZ: It is interesting to know that even though these two pieces were not intended to be related, they feel somewhat closely connected with each other when we listen to both together. I also think that putting out this L'âme est sans retenue II with 60 Pieces of Sound on one CD will mark a beautiful closure to the entire L'âme est sans retenue series (exactly 20 years since the first piece of the series was composed in 1998). It is so great to see how these pieces are connected with each other to form a beautiful arc over two decades.
JF: I listened to 120 Pieces of Sound again, I am so happy about this release. It's such a good feeling, after all the work, to have the CD now. And I remember also a title of a Richard Long sculpture: 147 (?) Pieces of Wood. I was at the time, many years ago, very fascinated by this title (and also by the
(Interview conducted by Yuko Zama, September - October 2018)
Richard Long, Somerset Willow Line (1980) Installation view at The Hepworth Wakefield, Photo © Stephen Jackson
Jürg Frey - 120 Pieces of Sound (elsewhere 003) is now available at the label's website (CD, lossless digital 16/44, HD FLAC 24/96), Bandcamp (CD, Lossless Digital 16/44, streaming), Metamkine (CD) and
"These silences are soon getting replaced by something else: by the sounds from before, by the sounds in expectation,
YZ (Yuko Zama): Ryoko, I heard that you were the person who initiated this recording project. How did you come up with the idea of this project?
RA (Ryoko Akama): I moved to the North of England in 2012. Since then, I had occasionally organized concerts and eventually set up '
YZ: Why did you decide to ask Stefan
RA: I enjoy what his music delivers in every aspect, in terms of composition, performance, and aesthetics. Stefan's music is sensible and delicate, but also is very determined. I like how he integrates ideas of the musical and the non-musical into a piece. The same respect goes to lo
YZ: Stefan, when Ryoko commissioned you to write a piece for her ensemble (for six musicians), what came up in your mind as an inspiration or idea?
YZ: Ryoko and Stefan, what led you to decide to record this piece with this particular ensemble of six musicians (including Stefan and you)?
RA: We had an afternoon workshop and evening concert a day prior to the recording session at Access Space, Sheffield. Stefan composed a piece ‘away’ for a trio of himself, lo
ST: Ryoko did not directly ask me to write a new piece for the occasion. She suggested to meet, play, and record some of my music. Then I had to find out what 'my music‘ could be for the project. Of
YZ: Why did you name the title of the piece 'about'?
ST: The title came from the activity of 'walking about'. I knew the space from a performance of my
Stefan Thut 'about' score (page A1, B1) (2017)
YZ: What was the main concept (or an idea) for this composition ‘about’? Or, what did you and Ryoko want to achieve via the realization of this particular piece?
ST: With this composition, I was interested in how to attribute a meaning to silence while basically playing sounds throughout the entire piece, though with pauses. This may sound contradictory at first sight. I was looking for a specific kind of sound that made us want to let time pass before playing the next sound. That is why there were short sounds occurring, mostly hit, plucked or bowed shortly. The most important element was that of the ringing material, the vibration of the string after having been set in motion, the activation of the air inside the bottle by ear aid devices. This again is connected to our recording situation.
YZ: This recording gives me a unique sensation of experiencing the sounds synched with me 'inside' my brain, while I also feel the sounds coming from far from 'outside'. There is this really nice open feel in the piece, and at the same time, it also contains the sense of "unity" or a silent intensity in the atmosphere, without each musician's sound scattering around with random activities at all. This experience of feeling different perspectives (inside and outside) in a sense of unity is very interesting to me, and seems to give the piece a very wide open, free space for the listeners to experience the "sounds" and "silence" both inside their minds and outside their realities at the same time. Did you intend something like that with this piece?
ST: Thank you for the beautiful description - reading this tells me about the intertwining of listener -
By the way, your words remind me of Rilke’s first verses of the opening of The Sonnets To Orpheus:
There the tree rises.
(in the German original, literally: oh great tree inside the ear)
And all is silent, And from this silence arise
New beginnings, intimations,
(Rainer Maria Rilke The Sonnets To Orpheus, English translation © Robert Temple 2010)
YZ: Fascinating connection! There is a large amount of silence in this piece, but what did you intend to attain with these silences in this piece?
ST: Structurally speaking, there are silences occurring again and again. On the other
What I am interested in here is to not just leave space with silence but a group situation wherein silences occur as an outcome of the musicians' activity. Here each performer follows the vanishing of sound and only thereafter continues with the next sound. This process is multiplied by the number of performers: six pairs of ears are aware of the decay of sound (according to the score). For me, this kind of focus on 'something vanishing' created a state of pure attentiveness.
YZ: What did you like about this particular ensemble of musicians?
ST: I was impressed by their carefulness, their curiosity about their own sounds and the sounds of the others. It is a rather unusual and unique situation to get together in a certain setting to record immediately without a preliminary performance. I think Ryoko had the genuine intuition that this was going to work.
YZ: In our early email, you mentioned that all the musicians felt as if they were 'elsewhere' after the performance. Can you tell me more about the special experience (or sensation) that you and the musicians felt after the performance? And what sort of natures (in this music) do you think brought you all to this special feeling?
ST: I think this kind of music provokes a drifting of the mind. In my experience it is inevitable.
YZ: If there was one (or more) thing which all of your musicians were sharing during the performance, what do you think it was (or they were)? Was there any particularly strong sense of a concept that all the musicians kept in their minds during the performance?
ST: What we all shared was the possibility of having two states of being organized: that of acting in the group and that of ‘being on one’s own’ by standing up, making a few steps, and saying a word. The latter was not necessarily addressed to the group. The words appeared for
YZ: If there is anything else you have in your mind about this piece and the recording of these musicians, or anything particularly impressed you concerning this collaboration?
ST: Each word was meant to be a sound that had one impetus, reminiscent of the sound quality of the previously performed tones on each instrument. With the use of monosyllabic words, the level of semantics is not apparent. The multilingual situation makes the words even more
YZ: Ryoko, how did you (and other musicians) feel after performing this piece together?
RA: I personally find it hard to use my voice in performances. A non-vocalist tends to get self-conscious about his/her own voice. Moreover, this piece asked performers to ‘walk around’
(Recording session of 'about' with Simon Reynell in September 2017)
The recording happened in Phipps Hall at the Huddersfield University. I chose the space for some practical reasons, the acoustics, equipment availability
Strangely enough, performing a score like ‘about’’ has a similar mentality. I felt that sort of sense when we performed the piece. The first take was a little awkward but the second and the third were more naturally embedded into the situation. Stephen concentrating on his guitar and forgetting everything else around him, Eleanor plucking piano strings so gracefully, Stefan observing and carefully listening, lo
Listening back to the piece is a different matter. Now, the music permits another environment. I am more objective, in a room away from where I was. Now, I experience silence differently, and silence is different from what it was then. The piece evokes a new scene in my alone time. This is a beautiful metamorphosis of a score. I wonder if I can call this moment - an afterlife of the score - the ever-changing translation and the rebirth of a creative work?
(Interview conducted by Yuko Zama, September - October 2018)
“In order to form a whole, you have to be simultaneously with and without the rest of the elements.”
YZ (Yuko Zama): I heard from Greg and Erik that they asked you to write this piece 'Without' for their duo. Can you tell me what came up in your mind when you were thinking about writing a piece for a duo of violin and percussion, or particularly for this duo of Greg and Erik?
CA (Clara de Asís): I wrote this piece particularly for Greg and Erik. Even if I knew and highly appreciated each of their respective works and collaborations, I had never listened to their work as a duo before. My first exposure to their duo was their recording of Eva-Maria Houben’s ‘Duos’, a wonderful album that they had recorded recently, which they introduced to me during our first exchange. What struck me from their realization was that I found a great symbiosis between the two, but both kept the uniqueness that distinguishes their voices. As if it was
I can say this was one of the main (or part of) thoughts that I had in mind when I started working on the piece. So I contemplated two “parallel” existences that would have an organic relation. Like looking at no matter what vision, what landscape, what direction. We can see elements that exist individually, but still in permanent relation with each other, bringing up something else, something arising from that.
Erik Carlson (photo © Jill Steinberg), Greg Stuart (photo © Tom Stuart)
YZ: Was there anything that inspired you to write this piece? (Like some particular influence from some art, film, music, landscape, your own experience, etc.)
CA: I don’t think I get conscious inspiration from things that I’d apply directly, but it’s rather
YZ: Can you tell me about the title "Without", like any thought or concept behind the title?
CA: I came to the word ‘Without’ after some time, in the last place, once that the piece was composed. It came as a verbalization of some thoughts that I had been having, but that
For the with to be possible, there must be a without.
It expresses the ambivalence of the elements in a whole. Because for a whole to exist, the elements are together, are with each other, but in order to be so, every element must also exist without the rest; exist, let’s say, individually. In order to form a whole, you have to be simultaneously with and without the rest of the elements.
Also, that word, ‘Without’, I was feeling in the piece some kind of affinity with it. Because of the simplicity of the piece. Simplicity versus addition.
‘Without’ evokes lightness to me.
YZ: My impression of the piece was that it contains some sort of a minimal silent beauty which resonates with an aesthetic of a Zen garden while containing the Western aesthetics in the colors and the textures of the sounds (as well as the vibrant energy underneath), in the meditative stillness. It is a simple but well-thought composition with the perspective of the 'openness' and the 'depth'. The intensity of the sparse sounds and silences is remarkable, and most of all, it feels so organic like watching a landscape in nature. Did you have any particular image (or anything) in your mind when you conceive and compose this piece?
CA: I really like your impression of the piece and it touches me
YZ: When I listened to the mix of Without for the first time, I was particularly interested in how the ‘silence’ in your piece felt different from other composers’ works I was familiar with. Silence could obtain various different natures depending on how it was incorporated into a composition or a performance – it could feel like a sound, it could obtain a weight, or it could feel as if it was changing the way time passes by, or it could feel awkward if not applied in the right context.
To me, your ‘silence’ felt very organic and unpretentious, containing serene stillness with no extra heaviness or indication. It has a quiet intensity and consistency with lucid
CA: I experience silence as a part of the sound itself. Every sound contains silence. I consider the sounds beyond their highest peak of evidentiality. They are more than just an audible phenomenon. When a sound stops sounding, it hasn’t finished yet; it’s still there. It’s like
Reducing the sounds only to their audible dimension would be like reducing a plant only to its visible result. But there are many other subtle forms of their existence.
We can still perceive things once their highest degree of intensity has decayed. In the case of the senses other than the ear, this is commonly accepted. For instance: after tasting a fruit, we still have the taste of it in our mouth; after staring at a candle, we close our eyes and we see the light; after touching a hot surface, our skin feels hot. – Why would the ear be different?
So I try to adopt a listening attitude that is receptive to the wholeness of what I consider a sound to be, including their silence.
YZ: How did you feel about the way Greg and Erik responded to your composition "Without" and realized it?
CA: Something that I had found individually in both Greg and Erik and that impressed me was (and is) the extreme attention of their listening, and besides a great sensitivity, intelligence and humbleness, and a very precise and subtle technique, how the act of listening is central on their practice.
I just love their realization of the piece. I feel very grateful for their work. I had composed the piece for them to make it exist and they made it exist. Before listening to their realization, I had a sound image idea in my head, but I didn’t have an exclusive expectation about how everything “should” sound. Even if it has a very precise structure, the piece is also open in many aspects, and that openness was for them to go through it. When I listened to their realization for the first time, I was very impressed by how the feeling that I was perceiving of it, matched exactly with the feeling that I had of it when composing it. It’s a wonderful realization.
diagrams for Clara de Asís - Without
YZ: In 'Without', it is interesting since the two performers seemed to switch sides at some point in the piece. Erik was heard on the left and Greg on the right at first, but then they were on the opposite sides in the end. Erik
CA: The thoughts about the space and the motion in the piece came once the score was finished, and Erik and Greg let me know that they were going to record it.
To me, the mixing stage and the recording set up are both directly related to the image of the space in the piece (whereas the writing stage has to do more with time). In this particular piece, concerning
I didn't want Erik and Greg's voices to be in a specific point of the stereo field and not move from there, this would have reduced them to a "call-response" effect that just wasn't coherent with the piece, that wasn't the point at all. And if their positions had switched more or less randomly, a natural flow would
I think that the same
Why choose to switch positions during the mixing stage and not directly during the recording, there were many reasons. You can be a lot more meticulous about the exact position of each voice in the stereo field. Besides that, I was interested in the motion, but I didn't want the motion to imply a result of the sound distancing away from the listener. Getting the motion but not the effect of distancing away from the mic would have been technically more complicated to do during the recording
And if they had done it during the recording, I think that it would have implied a presence in the piece, their physical presence, their bodies moving, even subtlety. While I think that it can be definitely interesting and it's something I’d like to work on maybe at some point, that wasn't the aim of this specific piece. – The second diagram is a suggestion of the position of the mics.
YZ: I saw your live performance in a duo with Lucie Vítková at Keith Rowe's event in NYC this October. I thought it was great. During the performance, you created an intense atmosphere while keeping a wonderful openness, never losing the consistency of the entire flow of the music in spite that your performance contained a large amount of silence.
I often feel that many musicians tend to rely on 'spontaneity' a little bit too much in a hasty way during a live performance (especially in improvisation), trying to fill the space with sounds as minute and various as possible, which often feels as if it narrows down the potential of the music with subjectivity and weakens the structure (to me).
But your performance was anchored in the core of the piece with stability, letting the music flow in an open space by believing what would occur in the course of the set with a great confidence. I was impressed with how you kept the calmness throughout the piece, listening to the sounds and the silences keenly, patiently waiting for the simple minimal sounds to grow in the silence as the music develops, and seeing how simple elements of sounds and silences could accumulate to form a music over the time. Silences felt so organic and seamless as a part of music in your duo performance. I think it was very courageous to keep such an open space with so minimal elements yet never lose its intensity. I found a similar serenity in Erik and Greg’s duo recording in your 'Without', too. I think this naturalness and openness are significant natures that make your music so distinctive.
CA: Thank you very much for your words about my performance at Keith's event. I appreciate that a lot. I must say that I feel a big affinity with your way of
I didn't know how our duo performance at Keith’s event would
(Interview conducted by Yuko Zama, September - October 2018)
Clara de Asís and Lucie Vítková duo at the afternoon shows of Keith Rowe: Extended at Mannes School of Music, NYC (October 13, 2018) photo © Bob Burnett
Clara de Asís - Without (elsewhere 004) is available at the label's website (CD, lossless digital 16/44, HD FLAC 24/96), Bandcamp (CD, Lossless Digital 16/44, streaming), Metamkine (CD) and
Stefan Thut composed 'about' in 2017 for a sextet as a part of the first concert series of the art and music project
By going back and forth between these two activities - one with playing the sounds as a group, and the other with individual activities of their own - standing up, making a few steps, and saying a word, the ensemble created a unique openness in the music while each keeping their own contemplative individual experience as a component. Through this piece,
(Release date: October 10, 2018)
FACTS / TRACKLIST / CREDITS
Swiss composer and cellist Stefan
Ryoko Akama is a UK-based composer and performer whose work, ranging from text compositions to sound installations, pursues minimal, reductive, cumulative, and contemplative experiences. Her work aims to offer quiet temporal/spatial
Stefan Thut - about (2017) 58:44
Ryoko Akama - electronics
Stephen Chase - guitar
Eleanor Cully - piano
Patrick Farmer - metal percussion
Stefan Thut - cello
composition by Stefan
project initiated by Ryoko Akama
recorded by Simon Reynell at Phipps Hall,
mastered by Taku Unami
design and photography by Yuko Zama
text by Stefan
produced by Yuko Zama
thanks to: University of Huddersfield and
p+c 2018 elsewhere music