Friday, May 2, 2008

Album Review @ Touching Extremes, May '08

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Nothing works as planned (Interval)

There is a good variety of styles and atmospheres in this double CD, which collects live performances of new music by American and Israeli composers (Ido Govrin, Amnon Wolman, Jonathan Chen, Neil Leonard, Kiki Keren-Huss, Beth Denisch, Arie Shapira, Keren Rosenbaum and Yossi Mar-Chaim). The pieces should represent different approaches to the phrase that gives the title to this set, but in truth it's rather perceivable as the effort of a community - led in this occasion by the American Composers Forum of New England - to find a common ground amidst variegated compositional methods and interpretations of contemporary visions, the whole presented in unconventional intimate settings. There's difference between the two discs in terms of aesthetic: the first contains works that could almost be placed into a quasi-newfangled electronica sector (Govrin's static minimalism, Chen's unfolding spirals of noise, Leonard's organic mysteriousness-cum-saxophone), while the second winks more to XX-century classic scores, with the majority of the situations involving acoustic instruments in pretty dissonant clothes and tendencies to non-serene disillusion (Mar-Chaim's piece for violin, contrabassoon and electronics, but also the disturbing "War" by Keren-Huss, which includes disquieting human voices expressing sufferance). The impression remains one of a reunion of people familiar with the reciprocal particularities, and the rarefied applause heard at the end of the performances gave me the idea of an audience formed by few knowledgeable aficionados. Interesting disc, in any case.

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