Aaron Einbond, Matilde Meireles, Yarn/Wire. multi.modal MM03 distributed by NMC Recordings, 2019. LP.

Cities, the third release by multi.modal released by NMC Recordings, includes two collaboratively developed works. In The kind of problem a city is composer Aaron Einbond works together with ensemble Yarn/Wire, and in London Scenes he teams up with recordist and sound artist Matilde Meireles.

Review: The Quietus

The kind of problem a city is (2016) for two percussionists, two keyboard players, and electronics is Aaron Einbond’s portrait of long-term collaborators Yarn/Wire, focusing upon their shared history together and relationship to their hometown of New York. It takes an approach of radical personalization not only to the musical materials, sampled with the members of the ensemble and used to compose the instrumental score, but also to recorded interviews with the musicians about their experiences and memories of the city. The interviews are complemented with excerpts read by the musicians from Jane Jacobs’s urban-planning classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and both led Einbond to corresponding locations to collect field recordings. These materials are the sources for delicate transcriptions, using the timbres of small percussion, melodica, mbira, kalimba, and piano to recast the minute coloristic and rhythmic details of the urban scenes and texts. The result could be heard as a performed installation, a radio play, a sonic documentary, a personalized map, or pocket theater that asks the unanswerable question of what sounds like home.

Excerpts from The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, copyright © 1961, 1989 by Jane Jacobs. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. 

London Scenes (2019) is a journey of discovery through field recordings, using Virginia Woolf’s 1931-32 essays series “The London Scene” as a guide. Woolf’s texts inform the sonic narrative, while the field recordings become a tool to start a conversation, collectively navigate the city, and critically engage with place. Today’s London scenes would be both familiar and foreign to Woolf: from the polyglot crowds of Oxford Circus, John Lewis lobby, Keats House, and Greenwich Pier to an Ashura Day celebration at Marble Arch. The work redefines compositional collaboration through an iterative process in which Einbond’s field recordings are revisited through Meireles’s sound design and synthesised sound. Both are joined by an international cast of speakers who animate Woolf’s texts with diverse accents and experiences as rich as London itself.

We gratefully acknowledge speakers Lorna Catriona O’Donnell, Franziska Schroeder, Michael McKnight, Tullis Rennie, Ian Pace, Claudia Molitor, Pedro Rebelo, and mastering engineer Craig Jackson.