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Paul Dresher Cage Machine

Concerto for Violin and Electro-Acoustic Band (1996-97)

Elapsed Time (1998)

In the Nameless (2002)

Din of Iniquity (1994)

David Abel, Joel Davel, Paul Dresher, Julie Steinberg, Yuri Mershevsky, and The Electro Acoustic Band: Craig Fry, Philip Aaberg, Paul Hanson, Amy Knoles, Gene Reffkin, and Paul Dresher

New Albion NA 125 TT: 75 mins

A composer to be reckoned with and enjoyed.

Paul Dresher is formidably equipped with basic compositional skills, but he is primarily an inventor of sounds who would appear, on this offering, to be at the forefront of electro-acoustic developments, with music which is continually novel; accessible but never too predictable.

This is a lovingly compiled selection of a decade's fertile musical thinking, interpreted by a team of fine, versatile musicians, and presented in demonstration quality recordings with informative notes. He starts with sound and incorporates instruments he has created himself in most of the works here.

But if you start with the violin/piano duo Elapsed Time you will find that Dresher is able to develop deceptively simple ideas into substantial musical structures. His violinist David Abel and pianist Julie Steinberg establish their formidable credentials in this 21 mins work which elaborates the initial ideas into Variations, followed by the spare 'yearning calm' of the almost static Almost before launching the 'long sprint' of Racer.

David Abel is soloist in the violin concerto with Dresher's electro-acoustic band. You may take my word for it that the sounds they conjure are remarkable, even if you thought you'd heard all that electronic stuff before, and the CD has some amazing sounds produced from extraordinary instruments, like the longest of all string instruments, Dresher's Quatrochord, heard with the Marimba Lumina 'percussion controller'.

If I haven't enthused you enough yet, help is one click of the mouse away to see the Quatrochord on screen in an excellent video of Dresher and his colleagues at work, with commentary by John Adams.

Do watch out for New Albion's releases; they are each unique and in my experience special.


New Albion reviewed recently by Musical Pointers: Vitiello & Tronzo's Scratchy Monsters and Laughing Ghosts



© Peter Grahame Woolf