Pauline Oliveros / Jesse Stewart

The Dunrobin Session

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A major innovator in the combined arts of performing and listening, philosopher, composer, and exploratory accordionist Pauline Oliveros celebrated her 80th birthday in May 2012. That milestone occurred in tandem with the Nuun records release of The Dunrobin Session, a set of shared improvisations recorded in March 2011 inside the Dunrobin Sonic Gym at Carleton University in Ottawa Canada, where Oliveros was staying as Artist in Residence. Her partner for this project was percussionist Jesse Stewart, who taught composition at Carleton. In addition to the expanded and electronically modified accordion, Oliveros also appears to have utilized various wind instruments. The results, which are resoundingly elemental, bear some sonic and textural resemblance to Oliveros' intriguingly mysterious album Crone Music, released by the Lovely Music label 20 years earlier in 1992 and consisting of material used during a production of Shakespeare's King Lear (hence titles like "Reason in Madness Mixed"). At the Dunrobin Session, titles took on the qualities of poetic directives: ""Drop," "Caress," ""Breathe," "Lurch," "Touch," "Paint," "Pound," "Feel," "Sleep," "Leap," and "Crawl." The choice of Stewart as collaborator was entirely appropriate, for his artistic life is strongly informed and influenced by what have been described as "the sonic and physical properties of found objects." The evidence for this is both auditory and visual, as the art pictured on the album cover is identified as his "13,000+ pieces of water-worn glass arranged into concentric circles on a bed of black sand." The pieces of glass were gathered by the artist over a span of 15 years at a rate of one per day from the coast of Lake Ontario. The installation pictured here occurred at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa Ontario in 2006, and suggests the combinatory influence of Carl Andre and certain other conceptual artists of an earlier generation. It is important to approach this kind of a recording with open mind and ears, utterly unburdened by preconceptions of what one thinks one ought to be hearing. Oliveros has spent a lifetime being fascinated by overtones and combination tones, savoring every distortion and pursuing a non-linear course that defies convention by reinventing the wheel at every crossroads.

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