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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Bearthoven, Scott Wollschleger, American Dream

The contemporary world of New Music keeps on. Nothing stays the same because music is a living thing and we humans interject ourselves into the mix at all points. If robots composed and performed the music, it is possible things would eventually enter a steady-state of absolute stasis, but since we are all slightly different every day and different people come onto the scene every year we can look forward to new things always.

And so today I have an example of a newness that is upon us and good for it, certainly. I speak of the chamber trio Bearthoven, the composer Scott Wollschleger, and their album American Dream (Cantaloupe 21146). The group consists of Karl Larson on piano Pat Svoboda on double bass and Matt Evans on percussion and vibraphone.

The music is appropriately dream-stoked, a closely knit alternatingly single (Karl alone) double (Karl and Matt) and triple-tiered interaction (Karl, Matt, Pat). The compositions call for a rather wonderful interplay of the instrumental voices in syncopated, complex coordination at a level rarely encountered.

The music is oft times in a sort of Minimalist zone that nods overtly or otherwise to what later Morton Feldman was doing and also at times the music of Mayuzumi. By that I mean that the patterns repeat and are constructed of something different from the interlocking lines of a Riley or a Reich. Lines are constructed more pointillistically or more specifically in a rapid hocket-wise fashion. And the way the patterns lay out are at times like a Persian Rug--the musical cells sequenced but too separated and contrasted in ways more like a sprawling rug design than a babbling brook. There is not a trance feeling so much as a sort of open mystery of different pattern-objects passing by our ears like an ethereal parade. Now all that is not simply that Wollschleger is some clone of things. Not at all. He contributes a great deal to the pattern op-art that has been put our way in years past. It is a furtherance, not a rehash.

And at the performance level the Bearthoven trio is extraordinarily focused on the Zen of the interactions so that magic is in the air always.

The music is a happy outcome, something very much Modern in one of the new ways that can be so today. I must say I love what is happening here and I recommend it very much. The path leads us out of thickets and we take it with some relief! And lots of pleasure.

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