Charlotte Hug

Brilliant Days

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Charlotte Hug's previous set of duets, Certain Questions with Pat Thomas, was a disappointment, but Brilliant Days brings back the highly creative mind revealed in early 2003 by the CD Neuland. Here, Hug augments her peculiar viola techniques (which include using wet bows and removing all tension from the hair of the bow) with electronic treatments. Her fellow improviser Chantale Laplante uses a laptop to transform prerecorded sounds in real time. Despite Laplante's background as a composer of electro-acoustic music, the five pieces included on Brilliant Days rarely sound like mixed works for instrument and tape (the beginning of "Brilliant Arch," sudden and highly focused, does conjure up this kind of work, but the impression doesn't last). Their art is more spontaneous and comes closer to a busier, louder form of electro-acoustic improvisation. The music taps into the listener's imagination without resorting to evocative soundscapes or any trick that usually commands the expression "cinema for the ear." For instance, a title like "Aujourd'hui, J'Ai Admiré le Paysage" (which translates to: "Today, I Gazed Upon the Landscape") could have been programmatic, but the piece remains abstract, open to almost any interpretation, and highly dynamic. "Ciel," the longest track at 16 minutes, is a rumbling accretion of musique concrete gestures born in the Birmingham and Montreal schools and set free, and echoing viola runs. The piece goes through many stages, some of them a bit long. This problem is solved in "Brilliant Arch," a gripping ten-minute piece that evokes the pioneering experiments of Richard Teitelbaum and Carlos Zingaro in the '80s.

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