has an individual musical voice. His
myspace page describes his work as
influences as diverse as Mahler and
Stockhausen; all of these genres are
evident in his music. It is hard to
sum up his sound; it is alive and
full of imagination, and creates an
emotional response. There is much
based in the classical music tradition;
his music features melodic lines and
"instrumental" lines. This is particularly
evident with the synthesised string
solos in Upon The Ground and
the use of choir and organ materials
in 1321. I would however have
preferred the melodic samples to have
been taken from live instruments rather
than electronically generated - especially
in Upon the Ground, which is
essentially an instrumental track.
His writing is harmonically secure
and he uses the classical idiom with
ease. This is essentially tonal music
which has a strong sense of tradition.
His treatment of this material is
the fundamental modernism in his work.
Classical ideas are mutated into something
entirely new, with violent pitch bends
(for example, in 1321), interruptions
and the introduction of a vast array
of electronically generated sounds,
from rattling chains to bells and
One striking aspect
of this music is Livingstone’s understanding
of rhythm, perhaps unsurprisingly
for someone who works as a jazz drummer.
There is a real energy in his work,
particularly created by the use of
ostinati which overlay melodic material.
This is notably strong in The Aloner
School, which features clapping
over chorale-style melodies and pizzicato
string effects. You can also hear
it in The Damage Letters, which
uses a similar device in a slightly
different way. The rhythmic momentum
is cleverly maintained, and the end
of the ostinato comes as something
as a shock. The sound-world changes
instantly, with the tempo slowing
to create a dramatic mood-change.
The Damage Letters is one of
two tracks to feature a live drum
solo, performed by Joseph Livingstone.
The other solo is heard in the opening
track, where it is heard against a
variety of electronically produced
sounds. The juxtaposition of live
and electronic sounds works well,
and the effect is dramatic.
Perhaps the most
interesting track is Verloren,
the final offering on the disc. A
combination of brass, keyboard and
string sounds are fused with electronic
elements in a glitch-style collage
lasting almost ten minutes.
This is a very interesting
collection of tracks, and one which
is well put together and carefully
considered. The work is imaginative
and could provide an interesting way
into electronic music for the uninitiated
classical music fan.