Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rolf Julius - (Halb) Schwarz (X-Tract/Edition RZ, 2001)

Sad news circulated this weekend about the passing of Rolf Julius. Julius' work was among the first to spark my interest in sound art and it continues to be a touching point when trying to make sense of the subsequent works I have encountered. After the Early Works disc, (Halb) Schwarz is probably my favorite. Like most of his other Small Music pieces, the material here carries with it the strong sense of being in suspended animation. The biggest difference is his tendency on this one to dip into those lower registers, so that the sounds aren't just twinkling over head but swarming throughout the room. I read a quote once by Julius: “For a long time I’ve been thinking about how to create spaces into which one can retreat, where one can find quiet, where one can see, hear, where one is able to concentrate, where one is isolated from the world around but still is able to participate in it…by means of art or music or both." There can be no doubt that he fulfilled that goal in these and his other works. Each piece feels like a small cove listeners can kneel down and poke their heads into, with sounds so fragile you fear one wrong move could send the entire space out of balance. In every strangely comforting piece, his presence is felt.

Links removed

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ilhan Mimaroglu - Face the Windmills, Turn Left (Finnadar, 1976)

The recordings on Face the Windmills, Turn Left date as some of Ilhan Mimaroglu's earliest works at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. The Turkish-born composer came to Columbia-Princeton in the early 1960s, working largely under the mentorship of Vladimir Ussachevsky. While Mimaroglu and Ussachevsky share very little aesthetic common ground, there can be no mistaking a shared technical prowess. Mimaroglu's transformations here are fascinating, mangling both natural and electronic sources with a pace and logical all his own. The majority of these works are built from single sources, which Mimaroglu often renders nearly unrecognizable. "Bowery Bum" (inspired by the spiraling line drawings of Jean Dubuffet) and "Prelude No. 11" are both built from the carefully amplified sounds of rubber bands. However, where "Bowery Bum" wears its unmistakable tape sounds with pride, "Prelude No. 11" presents as the work of a virtuoso rubber bandist, if ever there was one. Oddly, the purely electronic pieces such as "Agony" and "Prelude No. 14" seem the most likely to conjure real world images, however bizarre and absurd those images might be.

Face the Windmills, Turn Left