Cogent review of Ptelea by @heather_roche and two other must-hear releases from HCR.

Einbond’s Resistance (2012) opens the disc with barely more than the noise of air passing through the bass clarinet’s deep tube, and even this is only gradually augmented with the sounds of keys and, eventually, tones. Yet the work is also infused with the sounds of political protest – marches recorded in New York in 2011–12. Played through a speaker in the clarinet’s bell, these slowly emerge in their own right, a weird progeny of the instrument itself.

— Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Source: Three releases from Huddersfield Contemporary Records

Ptelea is available at: http://www.nmcrec.co.uk/huddersfield-contemporary-records/πτελέα-ptelea

Déambulation sonore | Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence

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I cannot wait to share my work this Saturday with director Jude Christian, singers Marielou Jacquard and Laurent Deleuil, and instrumentalists Jone Bilobar Núñez and Ellen Fallowfield. Please join us along with many unsuspecting listeners on the streets of Aix-en-Provence!

Source: DÉambulation sonore | Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence

Brava to Heather Roche for a great review in The Wire–go hear Ptelea if you haven’t already!

As if to establish from the start that she’s not inclined to aesthetic navel-gazing, Aaron Einbond’s Resistance steers the snuffing, yelping articulations of a bass clarinet towards a collective voice of human protest, emanating from a speaker placed within the instrument’s bell.

—The Wire

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More great end-of-year reviews for Without Words with the incredible Ensemble Dal Niente

A detailed and incisive review of Without Words recorded by Ensemble Dal Niente:

For sheer innovation in compositional technique and annotation, ‘Without Words’ is remarkable…. This one feels like a very intense study of something intangible, an almost microscopic examination of the fabric of thought itself.

— Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector

Full review:

Three substantial compositions of Aaron Einbond, the New York composer, are available on this CD Without Words (CARRIER RECORDS 022). The first of these is the title track, featuring the very distinctive vocalising of Amanda DeBoer Bartlett performing alongside the Ensemble Dal Niente, who provide a delicate but sturdy framework of strings, woodwinds, percussion and horn. In amongst the complex atonal and dissonant creaks and glides, additional cultural references are woven into the music in the form of brief audio samples from assorted philosophical pundits, such as Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Matsuo Basho, and Douglas Huebler. The complexity of this composition makes my head spin; its creation has involved a rich slew of largely non-musical sources, such as computerised research data, which have been mapped against fragmented texts and particles of speech broken down into tiny fragments, all enacted in a complex compositional schema. For sheer innovation in compositional technique and annotation, ‘Without Words’ is remarkable; just take a look at the score, which he has partially published online. This one feels like a very intense study of something intangible, an almost microscopic examination of the fabric of thought itself. Choke!

‘Post-Paleontology’ has similar close-scrutiny qualities and indeed is explicitly described as a “zoom in on an intricate soundworld’, and it showcases the mighty contrabass clarinet against just four acoustic instruments – violin, guitar, piano and percussion. As I’m fond of pointing out, the contrabass clarinet is taller than a man standing upright, and it produces profound creaking bass tones so strong that they could shake the very worms out of the ground. Einbond seems enchanted with the sonic properties of this musical chimney for sure, but he uses it incredibly sparingly, allowing its snarling growls to curl like smoke within a taut and precisely designated score. Only occasionally is the seven-foot monster permitted to utter an angry bark, a sound which is quite shocking in this context when it appears. Come to that, all the instruments here strain like jaguars and panthers kept on very tight leashes. I’m on slightly safer ground here since ‘Post-Paleontology’ feels a bit more like certain strains of improvised music which I’m familiar with, although of course it’s all composed. It’s also slightly easier to digest, since it’s not enriched with the dense conceptual layers as ‘Without Words’, and it emerges as a perfectly-programmed work which achieves similar effects to some of the tunes on Stockhausen’s Aus Den Sieben Tagen.

For those hungry for further exciting bass tones, look no further than ‘Break’, where sax player Ryan Muncy’s tightly-controlled breathing techniques are starkly presented against a backdrop of live computer processing. Barks, honks, drones, squeals – every sound he makes is dipped in amber and stands out with tremendous clarity. It’s as though the segmenting techniques of ‘Without Words’ had been redeployed in miniaturist form, to produce this solemn and profound statement.

Even more miniaturist than the above are the two sets of “Postcard” compositions, which are interleaved between the longer compositions, and last around a minute or 90 seconds apiece. Here the composer plays selections from his collection of field recordings, sometimes overlaying them with short instrumental passages from saxophones and other instruments. Even these brief passages are intricately composed; they begin life as recorded samples, which are in turn written out as musical scores, to be played live by the talented members of the Ensemble.

The release is Aaron Einbond’s debut, his first “portrait album”; and also the debut of the Chicago-based Ensemble Dal Niente. It is the fruit of many years of collaboration between both parties. Every time I receive one of these Carrier Records albums, I am usually impressed at the sheer craft and skill involved, to say nothing of the intellectual prowess of the polymath composers. This release is no exception.

— Ed Pinsent, “Segmentation,” The Sound Projector

Without Words with Ensemble Dal Niente in Best of 2014 from errant new music collective!

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errant new music collective includes Without Words with Ensemble Dal Niente in their Best of 2014.

Aaron Einbond’s release Without Words, featuring Ensemble Dal Niente, is a collection I’ve kept revisiting throughout the year. “Post-Paleontology” is a joy of timbral development and form from such seemingly limited materials, and the “Postcards” frame the three main works on the release in a way that befits a single sitting – a welcome rarity for me with new music “albums”.

— Jordan Kusel, “A Year of Surprises,” errant new music collective.