Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Obstacles by Kenneth KNUDSON
March by Wayne SIEGEL
Loggin' by Thomas SANDBERG
Encarsia by Jens HORSVING
Bangs, sounds & silence by FUZZY (Jens Wilhelm Pederson)
Riot by Jens HORSVING
Log out by Thomas SANDBERG
Recorded in various studios between June 2000 and February 2001
DACAPO 8.2224197 [68.02]

This is a disc of Electro-acoustic music by contemporary Danish composers.

Composer, Thomas Sandberg, to whom most of the works are dedicated, performs almost the entire disc. The composers themselves have been responsible for mixing and editing the final version and 'Fuzzy' performs on piano alongside Sandberg in his own piece. The slightly confusing booklet, in two languages, has the composers' own notes about the music although these are of often-impenetrable technicality. There are also biographies of the composers. It is most definitely advisable to listen to their work before reading the comments.

It is possible to describe some parts of the music as 'crossover'. Fuzzy for example is also a jazz musician. He has a television programme of his own called "Fuzzy's Workshop" where he introduces children to modern music, ethnic and jazz.

The first piece 'Obstacles' is made out of 'small articles'. I wondered whether these were nothing less than a knife and fork. It reminded of Jonty Harrison's 'Klang' (NMC D035) made from casserole dishes. To these sounds are added xylophone and bamboo sticks, and this, in a way, sets up the pattern for the CD. Electronically processed sounds are placed alongside the live percussionist, who sometimes improvises in response to the computer. Jens Horsving whose piece 'Encarsia' is partially inspired by an insect of that name with millions of wing-beats per second, comments that he had produced a "framework for solo percussion & electronics …. within which the musician improvises". It would be of interest to see the score if there is one.

This interplay between performer and computer is worked the other way also. 'Match' is "composed for electronic vibraphone drums and computer". The idea here, to quote the composer Wayne Siegel "was to create a work for percussionist and computer where the interplay of musician and computer is perceived as something natural and musical. A point of departure was to get the computer to react musically to the soloist's varied, free interpretation of the score". Many of the composers would agree with 'Fuzzy' when he remarks that "the piece will be never take the same form twice", because his piece, "is based on the principle where the musician can chose freely between fully through-composed, written passages, and passages where he can react improvisationally."

'Loggin' is slightly different again, having been, the composer tells us "created in front of a live audience" and being played on an African Log drum. It develops a fascinating complex of wild foot-tapping rhythms. The sound made by Sandberg himself, is passed through a multi-effect processor and passed back to the performer via headphones, which then inspires him …. to be carried away into new escapades." Real interaction here between the performer and computer.

It is interesting that these composers come from different generations, as it were, the age range being between over 60 to 32. All of them are Danish-trained although interestingly Kenneth Knudsen was trained as an architect and it's his piece which seems to have the clearest form.

The two bonus tracks are mercifully short. 'Riot' can only be described as 'the return of the daleks', and would best have been put aside or developed into something else. Both end in a rather cheap fade-out. Their length might enable them to appear on some CD single.

So, if you are interested in solo percussion and/or computer generated music then this CD will add greatly to your knowledge and education. However one looks at it, it may well be the music of the future.

Gary Higginson

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: