Stephen Nachmanovitch

Ludi Fecundus

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Solo violinist Stephen Nachmanovitch is not satisfied with mere simplistic approaches or basic musical nomenclature. As an improviser who embraces creative jazz and contemporary modern composition, the natural sounds of the universe are all in his purview. For Ludi Fecundus (translated as Fertile Play), he utilizes a custom violin that is built a full octave lower than normal, and processes it via filters through an IBM Thinkpad. Only two selections are overdubbed, so a full exploration of timbral possibilities is limited only by his imagination and where the sounds are headed -- either to space or remaining on terra firma. The titles alone should give enough indication of what these spontaneous compositions represent, from the mischievous, tuneful "In the Beginning the Gods Created Music and Dance" to the more obtuse, larger concept of "Continents Like to Play Too," the formative and flowering sound of "Earth's First Day," and the vocal, percussive, and icy attack of "Interglacial." A less processed, strident sound identifies "Trickster's Toes Were the First," while the related "Trickster and Raven Woman" traces the problematic male steps of a plucked bassline against his inquisitive, singing, wry female companion. Deep-throated sounds in even lower octaves, space-time dynamics with echoed harmonics, minimalist notions, free non-thematic discourses, and both faster and slower two-note techniques crop up on other selections. Of the overdubbed tracks, "Ubuntu" is more soulful than strictly African, while plucked and bowed notes are joined by tick-tock rhythms and the wonderful soaring sound Nachmanovitch generally emphasizes on "Play Is the Way." There's always a patient construct heard throughout, with purely tonal and spatial elements that speak to a higher but not preachy power. The possibilities seem endless for Nachmanovitch and his fertile mind, not to mention the sheer inventiveness at his constant command.

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