Anthony Burr / Charles Curtis

[Antiopic / Sigma Editions,]

At this point in his life, 75 year old Alvin Lucier can rest assured that his work as a minimalist composer of considerable stature will not go by the wayside His use of bare minimums throughout his compositions will forever be talked about for generations to come. Pieces such as "I am Sitting in a Room" and "Music for Alpha Waves, Assorted Percussion, and Automated Coded Relays" will sit in many critics' minds for years on end as suitable dissertation material. This new CD set sets out to dispense any notions that Lucier may be getting senile in the fall of his life. Starting off with a 20-minute long epic "In Memoriam John Higgins (1987)", Lucier immediately lets the listener know that the pure wave oscillator [that he's so fond of] will in fact be a mainstay of this set. Clarinettist Anthony Burr holds one single note, while a pure wave oscillator moves the tone and octave of the note up very gradually. By the finale of the piece, the listener's ears are buzzing with familiarity of this high-pitched mechanism that simply spins around in its own imaginary drone-time world. By the time we get around to "Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas, Part I Number 1 (1984)", the clarinet note produced by Burr is moving in another direction altogether. The pure wave oscillator still keeps the buzzing at a maximum, but this time around the waves are somehow closer, somehow warmer and less alienating. The humming is still lazier and somewhat cozier on "Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas, Part III Number 11". Cello played here by Charles Curtis responds to the oscillator well, in turn producing a deep bass, almost horn-like sound that is heard frequently throughout the piece. The odd thing is the recording is full of beatless beats. These are simply beats that are audible to the human ear when tones of slightly different frequency are heard by two separate ears. Also called binaural beats, they are prevalent on the second disc. Specifically written for cellist Charles Curtis, "Charles Curtis (2002)" features one elongated cello note, which mixed with the pure wave oscillators makes a humming, most often droning experience. When cello becomes "recognizable" at the tail end of the piece, recognition factor only lasts a few seconds. Then it's off to the binaural beats again. These miniscule beats are everywhere here. In fact, after shutting off the CD, I had the waves of these pieces embedded in on my ear drums. Truly, an unforgettable, palatable and a coherent release from a composer still shining bright in the autumn of his years.

- Tom Sekowski

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