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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Mark Andre, HIJ, WDR Sinfonieorchester, Mariano Chiacchiarini, SWR Vokalensemble, Markus Creed, SWR Experimentalstudio

Mark Andre did not show up so much on my radar previously yet after living with the music on HIJ (Wergo 7379-2) for a week I must say he lives very much in my head now. The entire album is filled by "hij 1" and "hij 2," the first for symphony orchestra and the second for a vocal ensemble and electronics.

The two works together make a dramatic statement in the best of High Modernist tradition. The works sprawl through space in soundscaped ways with blocks of cluster-chords rubbing up against more percussive noise as a sparing counter-stimulant. There are longish passages of whispering quietude that pave the way for or put punctuation on the bands of floating and evolving prisms of sound.

The composition diptych title is meant to be an acronym for the Scandinavian greeting "hej," a phrase deliberately everyday, even banal. Yet too the title stands for the interjection "Help, Jesus" or more specifically "Hilfe Jesu." So the whole is meant to be a cry to God for help which naturally contradicts the idea of the everyday.

All that comes together for an extended two-pronged spinning of an aural world not quite like any other, though there is Feldman and perhaps Stockhausen as precursors in the floating islands of sound idea.

Everything takes place as if we are in some alternate universe and yet of course this is music of OUR time and space. This is one of those New Music recordings that should stand out as important to our present-day world I believe. I would put it among the "you should hear this first" albums of late if you want to commune with the Modernist present. It's a goodie.

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