atd12 binaural download only
wave/forming (astrum) continues some of Lamb’s experimentation with pointillism, in which short articulations — points — interact and build towards lines that lengthen into what Lamb calls a ‘more total form’. Surface figures are spirited away yet patterns emerge in time, through long arcs of harmonic transformation, and in space, as sounds shift between foreground and background of the stereo fields.
Supported by initiative neue musik berlin eV.
Catherine Lamb remembers that the first time wave/forming (astrum) (2019) was performed, the oscillators sounded from opposing sides of the room, coalescing in the middle space where the audience was sitting, or sometimes quietly dancing. Then, the following summer, the piece was performed with four speakers facing out of windows overlooking a river, the audience seated on the far bank. The experiences were quite different yet transformative, she says; this binaural recording creates a third opportunity to engage with the liminal layers of the music. Lamb explains: ‘I like to emphasize that all recordings are realisations of something in a moment in time, and if we think of them in this way, they can also create beautiful ephemeral experiences that might change depending on how we are listening to them.’
The building blocks of musical experience — of those ephemeral moments in time — are each carefully considered by Lamb. Harmonies are scrutinised; scale contracted and expanded. Lamb puts into practice composer and theorist James Tenney’s reconceptualisation of consonance and dissonance as existing on a continuum. History, not science, has determined how they are perceived. Lamb also draws into her understanding of harmonic and melodic structures her training as a drupad violist: for example, the long introduction form through which a raag is established becomes a means for the small to define the large. Lamb’s exploration of the passage of tones through time is lent a further, spatial dimension by reference to sound artist Maryanne Amacher’s notion of ‘immersive sonic architecture’. In such situations, according to musicologist Ryan Dohoney, ‘listening becomes the ever-shifting awareness of an interiority spiralling in scale from my own psychoacoustic experience to the collective space of the room of the musical event to a global sense of listening beyond the boundaries the music draws’.
wave/forming (astrum) continues some of Lamb’s experimentation with pointillism, in which short articulations — points — interact and build towards lines that lengthen into what Lamb calls a ‘more total form’. These are like fugue states, in both psychoanalytic and musical senses. Whereas memory might be temporarily erased in the former, in the latter, fugues build connections. Surface figures are spirited away yet patterns emerge in time, through long arcs of harmonic transformation, and in space, as sounds shift between foreground and background of the stereo fields. While the experience feels organic, the complex, layered material is produced by two synthesisers, built and played by Bryan Eubanks and Xavier Lopez. Their digital fixity allows for the precise tuning necessary for the underpinning harmonic series gradually to be revealed. Each arpeggio, or arch-like figure, slowly expands, its pitches bursting into a star cluster. Their articulation, duration, speed and volume transforms as one ‘arp.’ daisy-chains to the next. Heard in the binaural version, they also move from a frontal position to fully surround the listener’s headspace. Finally, ‘arp.’ is replaced by ‘sweep’, descending bell-like through the harmonic series. The quiet dancing stops and the world seems emptier and fuller.