Lois V. Vierk


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Chicago composer Lois V. Vierk's first signature album was released in 1990 on the XI label (for Experimental Intermedia), and contained compositions written from 1981-1986. All of Vierk's compositions are deeply influenced by, and indebted to, Gagaku, the Imperial Court music of Japan. The three pieces here reveal Gagaku's influence in their sonorities and microtonalism rather than in strict thematic structure. "GO Guitars" (the word go means the numeral five in Japanese) is an aggressive piece for five guitars all tuned microtonally around E. The volume is high and the pitch is a wavering, shimmering glissando around sonorities. These all change as the tempo is increased and the notes fall off the board, moving the intersecting tones around to create new ones between E and G. "Cirrus" for six trumpets is a study that La Monte Young copped later for a trumpet work of his own. A choir of trumpets plays a drone tone at the top of the middle register, and one or two others play prescribed melodic improvisations around the one tone, using a limited amount of pitches. Finally, cellist Theodor Mook plays all eight parts of "Simoom." The piece begins with microtonally composed thirds in the cello's middle register. Eventually, shorter and then longer glissandi begin to enter the picture, forcing the instrument to move upward toward its higher register to realize all the tonalities presented in the score. As the limits of the high register are breached, a dramatic conclusion is reached as the glissandi are scored as hyperactive structures in the low register with repeated notes -- thirds, fourths and sixths -- carrying it to its conclusion. While not as compelling as her Tzadik release, Simoom reveals Vierk as a composer of depth, technique, and dynamic complexity, whose use of microtonality foreshadowed her later command of its language.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
feat: David Seidel
2 18:49
3 20:34
blue highlight denotes track pick