It's not every day that you get an entire evening of brand new music - especially not in a place that serves cocktails - but that's precisely what was on tap last night at Galapagos, where the MIVOS Quartet and Redshift played a double bill of all-world premieres that straddled the worlds of acoustic and electronic sound.
Combining acoustic instruments with 1-bit electronics has proven to be a fertile ground for Tristan Perich, who demonstrated the continuing evolution of his process last night with Salt. The rudimentary beeps (amplified via a tweeter hanging onstage) were well-woven into the strings, but it often seemed as if the relentlessly repeating strings were following the electronics, vs. the other way around.
Samson Young's 17 was far more crude, the arcade-game-like electronics completely drowning out the strings, via speakers placed unstrategically around the room. It was like being stuck next to a pinball machine on "Tilt."
Redshift's violinist Andie Springer introduced the 2nd half of the program, explaining that the ensemble had commissioned ten composers to write pieces to accompany a series of field recordings made by Alaska native and sound artist Kathy Turco. Springer, an Alaska native, said that this was a personal project for her, bringing together both her native and adopted homes.
The collection of works, called Arctic Sounds, was performed uninterrupted, the pieces varying widely in texture and timbre. Among the highlights were a new arrangement of David Lang's Stick Figure: a plaintive melody that was continuously - and brutally - interrupted by drum and cymbal crashes. Richard Carrick's Sonic Tapestry combined George Crumb-like piano manipulations with the quietly menacing sounds of bears. And James Holt's Gallery offered a quiet, sad dirge for cello, violin and piano that was elegant in its simplicity. Other composers included Garrett Byrnes, Matthew Welch, Jad Abumrad, Kirsten Volness, Max Stoffregen, Mary Kouyoumdjian and Ryan Brown.
Overall the experience of Arctic Sounds was more atmospheric than directly engaging, and should have been shortened by at least 2-3 pieces. But, with such a rich new trove of music for their unusual makeup of cello, violin, piano and clarinet, Redshift now has material to fill out their programs for a long time to come.
More pics on Flickr.