Studio Dan

Synthesizers of Sound


The New York Times, Seth Colter Walls, 2020-10-15

Writing for The New York Times this summer, the artist George E. Lewis provided a corrective for what he described as the “cone of silence” that has long suppressed discussion of Black composers. His streaming-music playlist humbly steered clear of his own pieces. But make no mistake: Lewis is still on his own late-career hot streak, as evidenced by “As We May Feel.” That chamber composition opens the CD “Breaking News,” released in late July by the Vienna-based new-music group Studio Dan. Lewis’s effort joins another substantial entry, “Wow and Flutter,” by Oxana Omelchuk. Though the album is not available on streaming services, excerpts can be heard on an official SoundCloud playlist.

Lewis’s 25-minute track culls energy from techniques of classical experimentalism — as well from brass and wind accents that recall Duke Ellington. Still, the delight doesn’t come from clocking each ingredient as an isolated incident; instead, the thrill is in noticing how reimagined and reconstituted the influences can sound inside Lewis’s fully notated score. Omelchuk’s piece also deals with a wide swath of aesthetics. Since her writerly method in this opus is more sectional in nature, her approach is an ideal foil for Lewis’s — making the CD worth the wait for its arrival via snail mail.