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Classical Music Review

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Electroacoustic Music


Composer: Robert Morris
Label: Ravello Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 09 February 2018

Ravello Records present Rippling, a new album by composer Robert Morris. Morris recorded the album live at a “Summer at Eastman Concert” in Hatch Recital Hall, in Rochester, NY. Consisting of only two tracks, 'Mountain Streams' and 'Mysterious Landscape,' these dramatic compositions turn ordinary sounds of nature in extraordinary pursuits of sonic ambience...

This was a difficult album for me to review fairly. While I loved this release from a technical point of view, it's also not the sort of "music" I'd voluntarily listen to for pleasure. The album's two tracks (46 min, 46 sec) take the sounds of natural water movement and alters it digitally but subtly, at first, to deliver something relaxing. As the tracks progress the digital manipulation will result in a smile or two as on occasion they tend to sound a little like impolite bodily functions.

'Mountain Streams' consists entirely of sounds from streams, creeks, brooks, and other bodies of moving water. In the beginning, the composition starts with a reading from a Zen Koan, as the sounds of flowing water move in real time. As the composition progresses, the evolution of sound grows, building the tension to a heart-racing climax until a splash disrupts the flow, breaking the percolating trance.

'Mysterious Landscape,' is an improvisational electro-acoustic piece. Performed entirely on Morris’s laptop, the composition consists of four tracks twisting and blending into each other to create a serene soundscape. The natural noise of birds, frogs, insects, mammals, wind, and water play off the acoustics of the Hatch Recital Hall, sending the sonic waves oscillating throughout the room.

'Mysterious Landscape,' as the title suggests takes something familiar and twists it to deliver something otherworldly. It's an interesting experiment, but is it something you'd listen to for pleasure? It's too distracting, I'd argue, for meditation and relaxation... so the question is what is it's function? Art for arts sale? Morris is a audio genius, there's no doubt about that, but this is something I think has to be heard live.

You're going to love this one or hate it. While I appreciated its technical merits, I'm afraid I lean towards the latter demographic... but that's not to say you won't find much here to engage with.


Darren Rea

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