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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Sarah Hennies, Spectral Malsconcities, Bearthoven, Bent Duo


Things that are called Experimental Music could be anything these days. So when I saw that as applied to the album Spectral Malsconcities (New World 80824-2) featuring two compositions by Sarah Hennies, I had no definite idea what to expect.

Turns out it is a chamber Minimalism where each work sets out a multi-layered cycle of repetition and development. The title work, Spectral Malsconcities (2018) is scored for piano (Karl Larson), contrabass (Pat Swoboda), and percussion (Matt Evans), the three musicians collectively known as Bearthoven. 

The work has various episodes and densities, but the multiple velocity parts seem especially interesting to me, partly because I myself have worked in this mode. What is fascinating is the way three different rhythmic velocities group together and then lag apart over time. Other sections are deliberately sparse.

So also the second work, Unsettle (2017) scored for  piano (David Friend) and percussion (Bill Soloman). These two artists are known together as Bent Duo. This second piece is even more stark and may be something requiring a bit of patience if you are not accustomed to the more thorough kinds of Minimalism.

And I suspect how you will react to this two-work program will depend upon whether the edgy side of Minimalism appeals to you, interests you and/or stimulates you. If you give "Unsettle" some time it starts to build and sends you to a mesmerized place.

So do not hesitate if the sparse kind of atmosphere appeals to you. This has a kind of conviction to it, born of a kind of good faith phrasing gesture set. It is deeply concentric, quite serious about the musical world it seeks to convey. Listen to the first work and that should tell you what your reaction will be. It is all pretty fascinating as far as I am concerned.

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