Timeless Pulse

Timeless Pulse: Live at CNMAT 2002

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Pauline Oliveros is one of a kind when it comes to listening to other improvisers and contributing to the moment of an improvisation without showing any trace of ego. And yet, in group contexts she always seems to steal the show. Is it because of her natural sense of harmony (yes, there is still room for that in free improv) or the beautiful drones she squeezes out of her accordion? This 53-minute set was recorded live at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies in Berkeley. Surrounding Oliveros are George Marsh and Jenniver Wilsey on percussion and David Wessel on electronics. Most of the set consists of tapestries of soft textures: accordion drones, cymbal rolls, gongs, bells and chimes, and cavernous drones. That's when the music works best (and the third of these three untitled tracks is a charm). Any sounds rising over this level of activity feels awkward. When Marsh plays patterns with brushes on the tom-toms toward the end of the first track, he disrupts the flow, startling listeners, stirring them out of their reverie. The same applies to Wessel's use of Gregorian choir samples at the beginning of track 2. The source is too easily recognizable and the music surely didn't need that kind of push toward spiritual serenity, it was already there. It may be free improvisation, but the expression loses its meaning when presented this kind of music. It flows so naturally and peacefully that it transcends any and all categories. People desperately looking for so-called non-idiomatic improvisation should pay attention to Timeless Pulse, even more than to Taku Sugimoto or Radu Malfatti.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Timeless Pulse
blue highlight denotes track pick