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Monday, March 6, 2017

Nordic Affect, Raindamage

Iceland's contemporary music quartet Nordic Affect returns with the album Raindamage (Sono Luminus 70008). It features three compositions originally performed by Nordic Affect in 2014 in the Icelandic concert Flow, plus three electronic compositions, one by each of the composers represented on the program. So we get Valgeir Sigurosson with "Raindamage" for violin, viola, cello and electronics along with the electronic "Antigravity;" Ulfur Hansson and "PYD" for violin, viola, cello and voices, plus "Skin Continuum" for electronics; and Hlynur Aoils Vilmarsson with "[N]" for violin, viola, cello and harpsichord, plus "NOA::EMS" for electronics.

The music somehow has a natural ambient quality of process whether calling for conventional instruments, instruments and electronics or electronics alone. There are modern sound color elements, soundscaping and various punctuations that mostly enhance the flow of the sound tapestry.

The compositions fit together end-over-end to create one long interrelated sound interlude. Nordic Affect puts themselves into the music so thoroughly that their utterances do not for the most part sharply differentiate themselves from the electronic dreamtime landscapes.

The music has a vivid Northern quality, icy or expansive, musico-biological, uncanny. It is an intimate collaboration of composer and performers, so much so that I cannot imagine at this point subsequent versions by other instrumentalists, that is how much the composer-instrumental nexus creates strong bonds for these pieces. It is a fabulous sound world that has great abstraction yet a sort of sound narrative that speaks to us in each case.

Is this the new music of the future? We don't need to know that. In any case it is some new music of the present, some very riveting new music, something every new music enthusiast should hear and appreciate.

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