PHILIP CORNER / MANUEL ZURRIA – Joy Flashings

Die Schachtel

The interpretative liberty left by Philip Corner for the rendition of his atypical scores is utilized with good taste and open ears by Manuel Zurria, a classically trained musician who nevertheless succeeds in discarding the theoretical rigidness of academy to conjure up evocative suggestions and snippets of breathing realism in sensible translations of the preliminary ideas. The near-entirety of this lengthy CD sounds natural, involving and honest; the rest of the fulfilment comes from the sheer exquisiteness of some of the acoustic juxtapositions, revealing Zurria’s will to try different methods to convey emotions through memory with childlike inquisitiveness.

The extremes of this “poetry of recalling” coincide with those of the album’s program. The long-standing “FIRST TRAVELS IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM” is heavily characterized by a “glissando instrument” (acoustically similar to a wooden flute) calmly sliding in droning backgrounds with taped voices and borrowed samples; this is complemented by somewhat warning sections, echoes from the ether and vacillating frequencies. Lots of inner-city ghosts – mostly captured during travels in the Far East – keep us with a foot on the ground. Still, the music definitely tends to a constructive oneiromancy attended by dreamy apparitions, sudden wakeup calls and subliminal oscillations of the rational activity. Zurria is a resolute drone lover, but also someone who can really use that means in compositional fashion instead of hiding behind it.

On the other hand, the conclusive title track is a marvellous joke for toys, piccolos and seamed loops of children’s choirs. Seizing the musical souls of a class of little kids and layering their angelic pitches in eerie clusters with over-acute toots, rubberized mini-barks, robotic gulps and sharp whistles constitutes a masterful touch. In the middle, the bass flute trio’s haunting parabolas typifying “Gamelan SITU” can’t be overlooked, and “STRAVINSKI Could-Be” is a clever attempt to dismantle the walls separating the concreteness of our daily environments and Corner’s artistic implications. Join this with the all-instinct, visceral energy of “Feelings (A Music)” – the only episode appearing more as a genuine improvisation than a proper composition – and what you have is a luminous album, positively belonging in Die Schachtel’s top five.

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