neither Anvil nor Pulley
There are a handful of youngish “new music” ensembles,
‘scuse the moldy term, who bring a needless to say much-needed fresh POV to this new music: It should by all rights be
a music of ideas without being too pointyheaded and cold about it. That’s the real short and crude version of what the
wondrous So Percussion is all about. The NY ensemble’s new work is a performance of composer/fiddler Dan Trueman’s
neither Anvil nor Pulley, in which we experience a multi-part, wordless passage through a mesmerizing
place where human beings are apparently finding new ways of being human with the aid of digital technology. Well,
you’ll just have to hear it: This is a beautifully shaded piece strewn with ear-cocking surprises whose overall effect
is a kind of richly satisfying engagement, on the one hand, and beyond all that just a great opportunity for getting
one’s ears and brain to enjoy the practice of deeply listening. Painterly nuance abounds in this combining of giant
bass drums and drum machines with Trueman’s Hardanger fiddle, turntable, digital metronomes, golf video-game
controllers and virtual (real and undefined) instruments. The work is chock to brimming with head-turning timbre
and resonance, and the group’s playing mastery is as always impressive, but of course what’s more inspiring is their
use of such superior craft to explore a genuinely new music –– of the unheard, the untried and the why-not. The old
“interior landscape” thing you get in major truckloads in this seductively hypnotic music –– and real exhilaration, too,
for the bravery, sheer intelligence and –– haha, this is old-school –– good taste in So Percussion’s excellent ways of
making music that is so utterly free of clichés and tedium.
This digital album should be purchased forthwith. It is available directly
Amazon, or you can go a different route and get a neat-o thing: The group has on offer hand-crafted
limited-edition “CD-replacement” packages –– repurposed LPs, interactive speaker drivers (used in the performance of
the piece), and interactive tether controllers (also used in the performance of the piece and sold with "Sound Marionette"
custom software created by composer/fiddler Dan Trueman); these can be purchased from the
Cantaloupe Music store.
–– John Payne