At one point during RAW there’s a pre-recorded exchange in which a woman and a man respectively say “listening to music / the emotion is not here”. This seems to be a somewhat wry reference to the difficulties defining this work by Anne La Berge, as problematic to mentally reassemble as the remnants of what is commonly recognized as “compositional reference” scattered all over the place by a fierce seismic phenomenon.

However, an open score has to be evaluated according to specific criteria, typically eschewing the sentimental side of things. The sharp contrasts generated by human voices blended with impulsive shards of instrumental action – courtesy of MAZE Ensemble – are alone sufficient to dissipate whatever hope of comfortable journey may exist for an occasional audience. La Berge does offer freedom of interpretation to her comrades, but just to a degree. Computerized suggestions and commutative responses – randomly dictating a momentary route for the musicians to pursue – are indeed the only existing laws to be obeyed. Accordingly, the assortment of conditions and circumstances is extremely variegated, the self-shaping character of the resulting counterpoints informed by all sorts of dynamic permutation. Additional contrast is brought by the precarious correspondence between acoustic and electronic nuances; this pushes the resultant sonorities along the invisible border separating a precisely contoured acousmatic architecture and an intelligent improvisational disorderliness.

How the mind reacts to such a statement depends on a number of factors. Lucidity and freshness on the listener’s behalf are a must; this is not the kind of stuff one approaches after a family row, or a blistering afternoon spent in the metropolitan traffic (unless your divine guidance is represented by the Michael Douglas of Falling Down). Kidding aside, the sonic conflicts irradiated by these half-spontaneous aggregations transmit positive tension; what is not comprehended at first becomes something to behold – and ultimately assimilate – later on. For the novice: get yourselves a good defrag software. It’s for the brain, afterwards.

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