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Robert Carl - From Japan (2012)

Ambient | Author: vicor 61 | 17-10-2012, 15:11
Robert Carl - From Japan (2012)

Artist: Robert Carl
Title Of Album: From Japan
Year Of Release: 2012
Label: New World Records, Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary Classical, Electronic, Ambient
Quality: FLAC (image+.cue+.log)
Bitrate: Lossless
Total Time: 01:15:55
Total Size: 436 MB (Scans)

American classical composer offers us this very Japanese album that is much memory as a Zen lesson. A coherent, innovative collection of avant-garde music and sonic pieces created over the past few years, its essence is calm mindfulness, of simply listening with minimal analysis, hearing sound as sound, musical sound. The first piece, A Clean Sweep, sets the tone with the slow, complex blowing of the Japanese shakuhachi flute against an electronic drone, which seems to be a constant note on the sho, a circular panpipe. [The pitch of the drone by chance [maybe not] is that of car alarms on my street and was irritating.] Here, Carl explores the psychological clash of tones, our cultural conditioning and expectations, and becomes a test of our ability to concentrate on and tame the drone and its variations, making a pure soundscape. Bullet Cycle, the next composition, is a modern tone poem of being on and nearby a Japanese super-speed train. It incorporates the periodic processed sound of an actual passing train. What ensues is a mythologically atmospheric and meditative piece. Cello, vibraphone, percussion and electronic media produce a quieting. Percussion, as if a monk's random bell, awaken listeners from their doze to the sound of the environment. Brown Velvet is a work for bassoon and electronic drone, but a nicer one whose settings of pitch and intensity are controlled in performance. This is a study of harmonic interplay with another woodwind. [The drone later shifts, for me, onto a sound akin to a large, old, multi-engined propeller aircraft.] The longest track belongs to a work, composed as a museum installation, that, like Terry Riley's In C, is indefinite in time and number of series. Collapsible Mandala shares with John Cage's 4'33" and Glenn Gould's perspective in perceiving the world as music. It demonstrates William James' "spotlight mind", presenting the listener sushi-like pieces of ambient sound, pure and mixed, to be savored individually. Long silences occur after each section for reflection, amens, and clearing. One of the more interesting sections sounds as if we are traveling with a column of begging Buddhist monks making the rounds from temple to community and back. They seem to be accompanied by children, and they follow a creek, past machines, street vehicles, drums of street festival, and temple bells. Another section opens dramatically and loud with a bass taiko drum, following some time later with the bass tone of a huge temple bell. The final track is a near reprise of A Clean Sweep, differing by the inclusion of a second shakuhachi played by the composer himself. Oddly, the drone is less annoying, even harmonious at times. Carl's very fine album is a musical metaphor for Buddhist meditation; it provides an appreciation of the Japanese ethos and art. However, its audience is narrow but global. This sharing and incorporating the musics of different cultures has been going on and accelerating since trade along the Silk Road. Explore a different sense of time and an exotic place. Explore this moment of sound. Carl has made an important album.



01. A Clean Sweep (2005)13:02
for shakuhachi and fixed media
Elizabeth Brown, shakuhachi
02. Bullet Cycle (2007) 15:59
for two improvising soloists, percussive timekeeper, and fixed media
Katie Kennedy, cello; Bill Solomon, vibraphone; Sayun Chang, percussion
03. Brown Velvet (2009–10) 7:13
for bassoon and live electronics
Ryan Hare, bassoon; Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn, laptop
04. Collapsible Mandala (2008–09) 26:21
electronic installation
05. A Clean Sweep (2005)13:02
for two shakuhachis and fixed media
Elizabeth Brown and Robert Carl, shakuhachi

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