Larry Austin

Octo Mixes

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Octo Mixes culls four electro-acoustic works by Larry Austin composed in the late '90s for eight-channel sound projection systems. Never mind the technical details, these stereo mixes work just fine, especially with headphones. Many aspects of the composer are represented: the sound crafter, the storyteller, the wizard. "Tárogató!" opens the album with a contemplative piece for tape and soprano saxophone (performed by Steve Duke). The electro-acoustic part is derived from recordings of a tárogató, a Hungarian single-reed instrument (played by Esther Lamneck). The tones of the two instruments play off each other, merging their characteristics to a point where it becomes impossible to tell what is what, what is treated or "live." Then come two electro-acoustic stories. In "Singing!...The Music of My Own Time," Thomas Buckner reminisces about his first musical experiences as a child. His narrative is cut up, recombined, and accompanied by his own vocal improvisations, processed. An interesting, sympathetic work, its only low points reside in the overuse of some figures (the word "music," for instance). In "Djuro's Tree," mathematician Alexandra Kurepa Washcka tells about her family's history (her father and great uncle were mathematicians, too) and leaving Yugoslavia. More down to earth and very well orchestrated, this piece blurs the line between audio documentary and sound art. Finally, "Williams [re]Mix[ed]" is Austin's own interpretation of John Cage's "Williams Mix." Using the composer's score and notes, but modern technology, he gives the piece a very different scope while retaining its original spirit. All in all, this is a very good CD, varied and attention-grabbing. Recommended.

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