Martin Parker

I really enjoyed Matt's approach. His piece "News from nowhere" fundamentally incorporates live electronics; the piece simply won't work without speakers and microphones because the instrumental sounds are intrinsically linked to one another by means of the electronic systems he's made use of. For example, the viola's slow bowing of the bridge ducks out when the violin makes a loud sound, in combination this keeps all of the textures and timbres alive and "dangerous" but also tricky to setup. It meant that the band were sitting around a fair bit whilst Matt, Alex and I rigged up the delicate feedback systems the piece needs but I think the results were worth the wait.

In order to make things faster with the setup, I should have warned Matt about the complexity of the recording and monitoring equipment in the room as this might have saved some time but the real difficulty with pieces like this is the calibration of settings in different environments. Matt had gone to great lengths to ensure his feedback system worked in his studio but in a different room with different speakers and amplifiers, the whole thing needed re-calibration. This is one of those pieces where the electronics needs to be up and running and tested in situ before the band arrive in the studio.

The music reminds me of frozen waste lands, desolate spaces and could work very well with film. It is very simply and spaciously put together with five episodes that melt into one another as the piece progresses. My favorite section is around letter D in the score where Robert McFall is asked to walk up to one of the loudspeakers and point his violin at it to create a melody with feedback.

I think that the piece could withstand more composition (by this I mean more intervention from the composer on the form and structure). Now that the theory of the timbres and textures of the piece have been proved, the instrumental elements and long-term structure could be extended and developed. Being as I saw part of my job this week to interfere I suggested that one section of the piece be repeated (section C). Not sure if Matt liked the idea but it does help to extend the piece and it is a lovely episode, worth hearing again.

Matt designed the piece to run through Ableton Live, rather than Max MSP or Logic. This was a good test for me as I've only just started to work with this tool myself. It made prototyping the piece very easy. Using this studio tool also showed that the whole piece could be implemented without a computer at all. It would work with a collection of analogue compressors, distortion units and a mixing desk. A good reminder at the end of the week that live electronics has a long history that extends back long before we were trying to use computers as musical instruments.

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