Natasha Barrett

Isostasie

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Natasha Barrett's first full-length solo album reveals an assured composer. "Assured" does not mean that her music is very original, but that the composer seems to have a clear conception of what she is doing. Barrett has studied with Jonty Harrison and Denis Smalley, and worked with the collective BEAST for a while before moving to Norway. All these influences show up in her work: The British composers provided her with a canvas, a work method, a medium (the acousmatic tape composition), and a number of key strokes or moves that have become the common language of academic electro-acoustic composers. The Norwegian climate, on the other hand, inspired settings and colors among which Barrett's own voice can emerge. Throughout this CD she alternates between short tableaux (three minutes and under) and longer pieces (12 to 17 minutes). The short pieces are not the snapshots of a tourist, but more the nicely detailed landscape paintings of an educated traveler. The first of the "Three Fictions" and the third movement of the "Displaced: Replaced" suite reveal a highly developed sense of space. Of the longer pieces, two stand out. "Industrial Revelations," despite its worn-out theme of intermingling nature and industrial life, contains some highly evocative passages that include a clever use of voice. But the gem is "Viva la Selva!," slightly long but very efficient in its transformative use of animal and human sounds. Isostasie may be a conservative release, but it has its fair share of qualities.

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