SonX is a wide-ranging collection of new pieces commissioned by the innovative chamber ensemble Zeitkratzer, a group including members from both the contemporary classical and free improvisation worlds. They developed an odd predilection for performing works that would seemingly be impossible to transcribe, in later years, for example, playing Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" (!). Here they do a live version of a Nicolas Collins piece, "Broken Choir," in which they mimic that composer's penchant for using skipping CD players, the ensemble scurrying enjoyably back and forth in quasi-minimalist fashion. Elliott Sharp's "Coriolis Effect" will sound familiar to fans of his work, covering ground similar to the pieces he's composed for groups such as the Soldier String Quartet and consisting of iterating kernels of atonal music with a slightly rockish rhythmic base. There's also a rare composed work by Keith Rowe, though the absence of any notes to the disc makes it something of a guess as to how much, if anything, was actually written down or whether, indeed, it is a graphic score (a possibility, given the reference to Jackson Pollock in the title). The result, however, reads pretty much like a freely improvised performance and not a very inspired one, sounding far more academic than anything by, for instance, Rowe's group AMM. As with their other releases, there's a bit more of conceptual than musical interest here, but it's still worth hearing if only to derive a fuller appreciation of some rarely featured and difficult to categorize varieties of contemporary music.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick