Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble / Evan Parker

The Moment's Energy

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It has been fascinating to listen to the ways Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble has developed its approach over the past 13 years. Some of its members, such as Paul Lytton, Barry Guy, Lawrence Casserley, Walter Prati, and Philipp Wachsman, have been here continuously since 1996's Toward the Margins, and the original sextet has now grown to 14 members, including new ones Peter Evans, Ned Rothenberg, and Kô Ishikawa. The Moment's Energy, an extended work in seven sections, is their fifth recorded outing. What is so immediately striking about this piece of music is how formally constructed it is. That does not mean there isn't improvisation -- after all, this is an Evan Parker-led group -- but more important is the place of composition in the framework of the whole. The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival commissioned Parker to write something for their event, and this piece, with its cascading sonics shaping the international array of acoustic sounds, includes Parker's soprano, Ishikawa's sho, Agusti Fernández's piano and prepared piano, Rothenberg's clarinets and shakuhachi, Guy's bass, and Lytton's live percussion. Much of the work is restrained, full of space and a muted color palette -- though at all times there is a lot going on. In certain movements, such as "II," and "V," full-blown free improvisation between the acoustic instruments almost overwhelms the electronic elements -- half the ensemble is involved in the creation or projection of these sounds and their processing -- in the longer middle section of the piece. Elsewhere, color and dynamic -- such as on the moody, and even harrowing "IV," and the forcefulness of the work's closing movement "VII" -- offer proof of just how rich, disciplined, and wide-ranging the soundworld of this ensemble is. In addition, Parker's compositional method has employed a different scale here: he seems to have composed not only a work for performance by this particular ensemble, but has written with the ideal scale of the group itself as a principle concern. Hence, this work is more modern composition than merely free or experimental jazz. This is a gorgeous work when taken as a whole, a musical journey through multi-dimensional landscapes and sonic shadows that seems to stretch time itself.

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