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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Matthew Shlomowitz, Avant Muzak, Asamisimasa, Hakon Stene

The key to the music of Matthew Shlomowitz as contained in the recent CD is latent in the two pronged idea of the title, Avant Muzak (ATD2). There is that double-take duplicity in the music made by the group asamisimasa, Hakon Stene on percussion and the composer manipulating and sequencing the sounds in various ways. The composer seeks to take musical and audio material that is often initially on the banal side and repurpose it to an Avant-Modern series of works. Here style permutes and mutates in fluid and unbounded ways. That can be liberating.

So among the various musical strains are concrete sounds of appliances and tools, scratchy record surfaces, a baby crying, conversation snippets, sirens and alarms, electronic bleeps and bloops here and there, and what have you, including a small bit of music sampling outside of what the instrumentalists are doing here. There is what sounds like an Electronica rendition of Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun" and it is both funny and oddly moving. This music does have a sense of humor and all the better for that.

Otherwise the asamisimasa group and Stene are central to what goes on. They most times form a sort of combo with Ellen Ugelvik on all manner of keyboards, Kristine Ugelvik on clarinet, Tanja Orning on cello, Anders Forisdal on sometimes quite electric guitar, and the aforementioned Hakon Stene on percussion, drums and electric drums I presume.

There is a tension between real-time performance and the sampling style of Cubistic rapid cuts and juxtipositions. This is key to the sound overall. There are three suite-like works, each with multiple movements, "Popular Contexts 7: Public Domain Music," "Popular Contexts 8: Five soundscapes for a contemporary percussionist" and the title work "Avant Muzak."

Most parts have vernacular elements, a Reggae motif, moments that sound like Progressive Avant Rock, etc. The best things have a deliberately scumbled chiaroscuro collaging going on. Real-time is on notice and the banality loses to the avant most of the time!

You would do well to listen closely to the music as it tells you what you need to know far better than my words are doing here. With the Pop world taking a key from classic Electronic Music for so many decades now, we get a kind of reverse feedback with Shlomowitz's adventurous musical program. And it is a fitting payback.

This you should hear. We spend most of us nowadays a good bit of our daily lives in virtual time. Shlomowitz gives us a vision of the absurdity and drama of that world, a sonic representation of the constant recombinatory nature of it all. It is a Post-Modern statement for sure and it epitomizes a kind of cultural mish-mosh in ways that are serious and funny at the same time. Recommended.

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