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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Michael Byron, Fabric for String Noise

Cold Blue Records is a central place to explore the world beyond Minimalism. Radical Tonality is the niche where much of the music on this adventuresome label resides. Yet even then if you do not know Michael Byron's music you may not be prepared for what you will hear on his new release for the label, Fabric for String Noise (Cold Blue CB 0054)Two Byron works comprise the EP at hand, "Music for String Noise" in two parts and "Dragon Rite." Both make use of the studio to layer the sound.

What might surprise you if you do not know his compositional way is heard very readily in the title piece "Fabric for String Noise." The entity String Noise is the twin violins of Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim-Harris. Byron calls for them to build up a musical menagerie of twittering conferences of aviatory violins via pentatonic-diatonic double stops and rapid figurations around several shifting tone motifs. The result is a soulful trip into a heaven-sent cacaphony of multiple voices that have the immediacy of some of the Free Improv flights that achieved levitation, such as Coltrane's classic "Ascension" or some of Alan Silva's wonderful large group works. It is a journey into the Radical Tonality world in the way it stays with a serial set of motives as the springboard for the sound sculpting. It is a most delightful trip!

"Dragon Rite" takes an opposite tact in that it is build out of the low register bowed sustains of James Bergman's double bass. Where "Fabric" is high registered, Dionysian, mercurial and ever moving, "Dragon" is a block of  low pitched, Apollonian stasis, slowly deep.

It is music that takes you into a special world and has its vision, then is gone. Michael Byron has a special way about him musically. Try this one and see where it takes you. It is a happy listen if you open to it like I did.

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