GEORGE LEWIS / OXANA OMELCHUK // STUDIO DAN - Breaking News
DMG Newsletter (downtownmusicgallery.com), Bruce Lee Gallanter, 2020-07-17
This disc features Studio Dan playing the music of AACM member/author & Columbia U professor George Lewis, as well as the music of Oxana Omelchuk. The liner notes on this disc by Brian Morton are most fascinating and discuss the probable causes of the Third and Fourth World wars, as well as the profound ways that both composers here deal with “the way we experience, retain and communicate information” in this day and age. The music itself is something else, the more we listen, the more we hear.
George Lewis’ piece is titled “As We May Feel”, which is the title of an essay by Vannevar Bush written at the end of WWII, a pioneer in computer information and development. There are several layers of moving currents or waves going on here, things are in a state of constant flux, as one line shifts into another. As soon as we hear one idea erupt, a different fragment emerges or submerges. Yet, everything remains connected or focused in the flow of events. When I played this piece for the second and third time, I started to hear more going on, things that I missed the first time around. I had to turn off the kitchen fan and listen more closely. I noticed that the quieter parts and use of silence or space, had me focusing on certain nuances or textures. More was revealed. The second piece was composed by Ms. Oxana Omelchuk and is called, “Wow and Flutter, for Two Trombones and Ensemble”, which is a speed variant caused by turntables and tapes machines which causes pitch variations. Considering that I hadn’t heard of Ms. Omelchuk before now, this piece is even more extraordinary. The trombonists here, Matthias Muche and Daniel Riegler, are featured and at the top of the ensemble. While they play a series of long tones together, the ensemble moves in waves around them with fragments of different styles or genres erupting here and there. In the second section, the bassist plays a soft, hypnotic bass throb while the rest of the ensemble swirls tightly around him, first softly and then explosively later on. The change in directions and use of old jazz inserts are especially well done and filled many surprises, muted jazz vocals from (sampled) old records. It sounds as if we are weaving our way through a history of recorded music which somehow unfolds organically. Both pieces are well exploring several times since each is filled with unexpected surprises.