As if mindful of the reception nowadays accorded the more radical of today’s music, Björn Heller bases his booklet-note on the word ‘serious’, which itself fairly sums up Sam Hayden’s output. This first disc devoted to his music comprises four works from just over a decade and confirms his prowess as a writer of intricate, often oblique and always provocative music, which is made more so through the tension between the systematic and the spontaneous in his thinking.
The earliest piece, presence/absence (2000), has an appreciable grasp of the way that continuity can be heightened during the transition from the static to the disruptive; this latter quality being to the fore throughout misguided (2011), with its almost playfully aggressive take on overtly modernist gestures. Even more visceral, system/error (2003) pits flute, violin and percussion in a three-way dialogue whose occasional moments of coordination are more unsettling than the prevailing antagonism, whereas Die Modularitäten (2007) outlines a more methodical trajectory in the way in which sub-groups from the ensemble are linked by ethereal transitions and framed by tutti passages where a fractious coming-together is made manifest. Listeners can download a further piece, schismatics (2007), whose combining of electric violin with its computer-generated ‘other self’ brings Hayden’s underlying modus operandi into an unsparing though often capricious focus. Fiercely committed performances, as might have been expected from the calibre of the artists and ensembles involved, and a disc which deserves attention from all inquiring listeners for some seriously impressive music-making.