This second solo CD by Randall Smith shows him taking a leap from acousmatic tape music to mixed electroacoustics. The innocence and refreshing candor found in L'Oreille Voit have slightly receded to make room for denser works. That is not to say he lost his power of evocation. On the contrary, the pieces on Sondes tend to be closer to his ideal of "cinema for the ear" while offering more refined compositions. "Insideout" still contains a lot of playfulness. Its basic materials are limited to five samples, five notes produced by four different instruments: flute (C4), violin (G#4), clarinet (D#4), and double bass (Bb2, A2). Extensively transformed, these fragments were reassembled following classical techniques. The result is fascinating and has nothing to do with your usual baroque etude. Movement is still at the center of Smith's vision, with or without a real instrument to support the tape. "Elastic Rebound" and "Continental Rift" (the latter for tape and cello) were inspired by geological concepts. But the real highlights are "Liquid Fragments 1," where the double bass and the alto flute play with (distorted) mirror images of themselves, and "Convergence," a piece commissioned and performed by virtuoso and champion of new accordion music Joseph Petric. The latter deconstructs traditional forms of accordion music like polka and tango and fits them into a very entertaining carnivalesque setting. Smith's music is not particularly original, but its joie de vivre and sense of purpose are highly contagious. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture