The challenging of conventions that qualifies the majority of Richard Barrett’s output is displayed throughout this double CD. Comprised are three extensive pieces – duration ranging from 22’53” to 56’34” – subverting any antediluvian concept of relationship between formal composition and passive listening. The protagonist of this triptych is cellist Arne Deforce who, in his presentation of the material, invites “to listen if not three times, five times, eight or thirteen times to discover and to live the imaginative power of music”. Deforce’s zealous contribution as respectful interpreter and inventive improviser is unquestionably helpful in keeping the discriminating listener focused and responsive. And yet it could take a lifetime – and perhaps not even that would be enough – to arrive at the point of all-encompassing receptiveness required to authentically comprehend the organic traits of scores whose main influence lies in the complexity of life’s innumerable forms, movements and, especially, mutations.
The impossibility of memorizing and/or categorizing the lively cells nourishing these amazing constructions might indeed confuse a traditional-minded recipient, although Barrett’s vision does include strange elegiac varieties (as ascertained in “Nacht Und Träume”, the lone episode featuring another player, pianist Yutaka Oya). The composer’s intent remains, first and foremost, that of jeopardizing our perceptive habits and mental posture during the process of acquisition of normally inconceivable chains of events. The volition to probe apparently unfathomable depths within a sonic cosmos is evident everywhere, the cello/electronics interaction strengthened by a wealth of correlative suggestions and unsorted data. In Barrett and Deforce’s imagination there is no impediment for the instrument to determine a constitutional alteration, or for the electronic environment to split the performer’s reaction into non-convergent itineraries. No term such as “incompatibility” is allowed: skill and interference, magnitude and bedlam, convulsion and contemplation are functional juxtapositions defining an unshakable distinctiveness.
After days spent with these recordings in my ears, I am thinking of the made-up theories (utterly fashionable in places where “pitiful ignorance” rhymes with “arrogant assumption”) about the presumed therapeutic qualities of selected frequency cycles as opposed to less “divine” ones. Now, the universe cannot contain (and, in turn, the consciousness of an intelligent person cannot accept) this kind of farcical impositions designed for mind control. Humans must try to conform to the endless cosmic laws; not invent them. Thus, Music For Cello And Electronics is part of the mechanism of aperiodic signaling of the disturbing insignificance of men inside a vibrating (im)perfection. Not many people are willing to acknowledge those signals yet; but it’s never too late to learn. Start by observing the limitless ramifications of the surrounding existences, Mother Nature included. If you still believe that the best audible rendition is a populace-approved “harmony” derived from a system enforced by someone for their own comfort and interest, then it means that we have a problem.