Get Shorty (November 2011)

JOHN LUTHER ADAMS – Four Thousand Holes

In spite of my high regard for some of Adams’ past work, I couldn’t manage to greet this one warmly enough to compare it to the Alaska-based composer’s top opuses. The protracted title track superimposes major and minor triads played by Stephen Drury on the piano and processed in the studio via reversal of decaying reverberations and manufacturing of electronic “auras”. As charming as selected spots and chordal coincidences appear, too often the results cause the intellect to catch hints of unintentional Tchaikovskian solemnity. Better, if shorter at nine-plus minutes, the subsequent “…and bells remembered…” for mallet instruments, performed by Scott Deal with The Callithumpian Consort. Its “rarefaction-cum-blurred-resonance” temperament is much nearer to the introspective standards we’re used to receive from Adams’ scores and, in general, the Californian label. (Cold Blue)


Field recordings from France and Scotland by a name that I had never met prior to receiving this CDR. There’s a whole explanation on the sleeve in regard to a “compositional” approach in what Hignell produced after seizing circumstances, noises and voices of the visited places, but nevertheless the act of listening remains anchored to the perception of environmental events as such: natural phenomena (majestic thunders, for example), involuntary patterns, unexpected appearances – including the snippet of a heavy-hearted Edith Piaf rendition by some street musician – and enlargements of the acoustic spectrum of a certain place, though I don’t know to which extent the sources were treated afterwards. It all amounts to something that, in its relative ordinariness, still manages to elicit a degree of interest – especially in terms of “resonance colour” – thanks to an appreciated sense of unobtrusive modesty. (Triple Bath)

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