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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

David Claman, Gradus


There are new musics that strike out on untrodden or little trodden paths. We are invited to follow. Those who answer the call enter another musical landscape, or series of landscapes. Perhaps these sorts of musical possibilities are not always for the multitudes. I cover such things here. Some of the music on these pages is not especially geared for the vast, teeming crowd, though perhaps a future crowd might discover some of it in time. 

So in this light we consider the recent music of David Claman, Gradus (Albany TROY1837). It is music like that, something for a discerning listener with a sense of attraction for the unknown, the unexpected.

The passage from beginning to end takes us through 13 separate parts, 13 tracks, 13 universes of sound that relate one to the other with enough sameness and enough difference that you feel a movement towards a destination place, musically.

Claman teaches at Lehman College, SUNY and earned degrees from Wesleyan, the University of Colorado and Princeton. He also studied Classical Indian music in South Asia for a time. That influence factors into the music nicely at times but then  everything shows an individual stamp. He muses in the liner notes how initially NOT understanding, whether music or some other life experience element, can be influential in what one becomes, that the experience in fact can "rewire the brain." So composition for him is producing "a different way of hearing." So too for Claman different states, other different ways came about out of other specific experiences, for example Melville's Moby Dick (as especially an escaping from Western Civilization perhaps), as with Tamil sayings from the 1st Century AD, and so too out of hearing the music of South Indian composer Syama Sastri, as well as improvisation as a way of knowing. These and other forms of coming to know form a key part of the music we hear on Gradus.

One way or another the 13 segments that make up Gradus form a make-knowing out of the originally unknown so to say, this all made up in turn out of conventional instruments, the voice and electronics. 

So relevant poetic and depictive spoken and sung texts mingle with tonal drone and primal tonality, very Post-Romantic, Indian and adagio expressiveness, shifting ratio temporality, in a very stimulating  and fascinatingly contrasting program that exudes a lyricality without the trappings of sentimentality and so sounding futuristic in its own way, in an aurally singular way.

Emerging from extended listenings I do not hesitate to recommend this one heartily for you who seek another angle on the music happening right now. Claman has his own stylistic parameters and they are very nice to ponder. Bravo! Do hear this one.

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