Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: The Moment’s Energy (ECM 177 4798)
This group has been described as a new kind of chamber orchestra, for while it contains some of the instruments you might find in a conventional classical ensemble (double bass, violin, piano, percussion) there are also all kinds of other things, from shakuhachi and sho to signal processing, live electronics and sound projection.
The music was commissioned by Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and performed there in in November 20o7; some of the tracks were recorded live, others were from studio sessions beforehand. The title track is in seven parts and takes up most of the disc, with a final piece called Incandescent Clouds.
So how to describe this highly abstract music? It is fascinating how the sounds all feel part of the same world, whether acoustically or electronically generated. And an expansive world it is, throwing up wide landscapes of sound. But it is also highly detailed and multi-layered, leading the listener to lean in and become absorbed in the micro sounds as well as the macro one.
While Part II, for example, might start off with breath through shakuhachi and then bass clarinet, by the time the electronics increasingly have become to manipulate and distort the acoustic sounds they sound no less humanly generated, no further from the breath that started them.
I’m not quite sure why I enjoy this so much more than other more classically sourced contemporary music (because it certainly shares a lot of that ground and tradition). Maybe it is because these are players more at home improvising and interacting in a live context and so the music doesn’t have quite the detachment of more strongly composer-led music.
Parker confirms yet again that he is one of our most visionary and original of musicians.