BRUCE FRIEDMAN – O.P.T.I.O.N.S.

pfMENTUM

The acronym stands for Optional Parameters To Improvise Organized Nascent Sounds. This is a venture managed by trumpeter Bruce Friedman, who kindly sent me the CD over two years ago (no need to repeat my customary excusing blah-blah, I suppose). Essentially, we’re in presence of a nonet gathering some of the finest musicians of the West Coast Area (Friedman himself plus Lynn Johnston, Ellen Burr, Eric Sbar, Michael Intriere, Andrea Lieberherr, Emily Beezhold, Jeremy Drake and Rich West), giving a personal reading of scores which employ graphic symbols in lieu of the universally identified regular notes; a part of these intriguing signs is visible on the record’s cover. Accordingly, the materials are better analyzable in terms of sheer structural density rather than following conservative principles based on concepts of “melody” and “harmony”, although the contrapuntal designs generated by this fine electroacoustic ensemble are always attractive in their regulated unpredictability. It’s one of those cases in which the combination of arrangement and lateral thinking discards the typical hedonistic aspects of self-consciousness to look instead for the mirage of collective perfection in a naturally imperfect setting. Throughout these sketches of contemporary chamber music – mostly edified on rhythmic fracture, skewed linearity and erudite dissonance in a well-calibrated percentage of sparseness and wealth – you’ll realize that the beauty of the whole lies, in equal parts, both in the very process of research and the final outcome. Fans of (among others) orchestral Zappa, Henry Cow and Motor Totemist Guild will nod appreciatively.

Posted in Uncategorized