Hannis Brown, Q2 Music
Hannis Brown is the assistant producer for Q2 Music, WQXR’s online web stream for contemporary classical (or “new”) music.
"On the Nature of Electricity & Acoustics" is the new compilation of Irish electronic and electroacoustic music from Heresy Records. Held together by little other than the composers' nationality, the disparate mix offers a glimpse into a compelling world little known within Ireland's boundaries, let alone by the rest of the world.
Curated by composer Daniel Figgis, the survey takes a decidedly more-is-more approach, squeezing 23 tracks into an hour that encompasses modern dance music, experimental electronica and contemporary classical electroacoustic excursions.
The record opens with Baby Grand, a 1978 minimalist composition by unsung Irish electro-acoustic hero Roger Doyle that incorporates processed disklavier-like flurries alongside a driving acoustic piano figure that alternately recalls jazz innovator Vince Guaraldi and composer Steve Reich.
From there, the compilation runs the gamut from ping-pong-y synth atmospherics (Dublin-based techno/house producer Educution's Again With The Horse) to vinyl-hissed, start-stop beats (Deep Burial's Gluebaglung) to heady electroacoustic compositions by classically-grounded composers like Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Bates.
The music largely favors texture and color over melodic or harmonic development, but the composers' varying backgrounds make for fresh approaches to ambiance. Devotional 3, by classically-trained, Belfast-born composer Ian Wilson layers mournful Celtic fiddling over a static bed of droning electronics. The provocatively named Devilcock! is a goth dance track by the controversial Princess Tinymeat collective (they were banned from Irish national television after their first appearance). Misterman, by composer and Crash Ensemble founder Donnacha Dennehy was conceived as a score to an experimental theatre piece by Irish playright Enda Walsh. The music incorporates glissing cello harmonics, processed voices and guitar into a complex, chilling blend.
"On the Nature of Electricity & Acoustics" is a somewhat disjunct thrill-ride of a listen. But that's the point. Few listeners outside of Ireland's academic or underground scenes will have heard this music, but as the compilation proves, it's a rich and diverse world worth visiting.
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