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Joseph ANDERSON (b. 1970)
Epiphanie Sequence: Kyai Pranajo (1998) [19:45]; Mpingo (2003) [23:30]; Pacific Slope (2002) [26:20]
Matt Ingalls (bass clarinet)
rec. no details supplied. DDD
SARGASSO SCD28056 [79:28]
Experience Classicsonline

Joseph Anderson’s Epiphanie Sequence is a set of three acoustic pieces which provide the listener with an exploration of sound in abstract ways. Kyal Pranja makes use of gamelan sounds, influenced by Debussy’s discussion of Javanese music. The title means from the heart or from the inside, and we hear these instruments in a variety of different ways, from straightforward sounds to highly processed electronic distortions. Composed while Anderson was working with legendary Electroacoustic Sound Theatre BEAST in Birmingham, this music suspends time and allows us to see the infinite detail within the sounds being used. At one point, the music is interrupted by the sound of the human voice, and we suddenly become aware of the recording process, taking the listener from a passive appreciation of sound to a more involved awareness of how that sound is created. For a brief moment this becomes a documentary-style demonstration of process, before we are once again absorbed by the sounds themselves. This is a fascinating effect which helps the music to work on multiple levels.

The second work, Mpingo has a much more immediate sense of energy and drama. Again, musical sections are interrupted by vocal discussions which form part of the collaborative process between Anderson and bass clarinetist Matt Ingalls, and a split second later we are once again immersed in the musical sounds. This is fascinating and explores the sound of the bass clarinet, with the title Mpingo referring to the dark wood used for instrument building.

The final work, Pacific Slope uses sounds recorded in the Pacific, including bells, waves and trees. Human discussions once again give a sense of depth to the polished sounds. As the title suggests, this work has a geographical sense of place, with a wonderful series of wave sounds and dramatic movements through the stereo space. The bell sounds are poignant in their introduction, a reminder of the human after the power of the waves. A section of drum-like sounds follows, injecting a new kind of energy into the landscape before the bells and waves return. Andersen’s blending of the sounds merges the boundaries between what is real and what is artificial - for example, using bell sounds to represent waves - and commands us to listen carefully.

These three works are all of reasonably substantial duration, with the shortest lasting nearly twenty minutes. However, Anderson seems to be able to suspend time through his music, and the tracks seemed over almost as soon as they began. This is a fascinating disc which is successful on many levels, not least as an exploration into sound.

Carla Rees 


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