Thursday, March 4, 2010

Electro-Acoustic Music From Maryanne Amacher

Originally posted on November 11, 2008

We make a seemingly wide leap from yesterday’s Teddy Bears to electro-acoustic composer Maryanne Amacher. Her latest CD Sound Characters 2 (Tzadik) constructs sprawling landscapes of electronically altered sounds. The disk contains the long work “Teo.” At least part of this was generated through the acoustical properties of a cavern deep underneath the ancient Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan. It is ambient sound without much in the way of melody or conventional tones, but it’s less harsh than some of the pure noise pieces being created today. What’s interesting to me is that the entire piece holds together with its own internal logic, like some intelligent space alien that is attempting to communicate with humanity in a language not understood.

There’s something about it that seems reasonable and sensible, and yet the meaning component is elusive. I especially like the intensity of the final section, which drones and undulates like a chromium hornets’ nest. If you listen to metal or jambands or whatever, you will find this pretty much of a jar out of your usual ideas of what you should be hearing. It is more of what is happening TODAY in the world, and a good example of it at that. You can ignore it, hate it, embrace it or disdain it, but it is not going away. It is a party where if you don’t like what’s going on YOU are the one that has to leave. Ms. Amacher will stay. And to me she is most welcome to do so.

So what does this have to do with guitars? Nothing. Everything. It is all connected. We are in a period of post-whatever-went-before. A musician should be aware of what comes after what-already-has-been. There never could have been a Dark Side of the Moon without Stockhausen and Cage. And the same sorts of things are true today.

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