JL ADAMS Four Thousand Holes. ...and bells remembered...

Author: 
Laurence Vittes

JL ADAMS Four Thousand Holes. ...and bells remembered...

  • Four Thousand Holes
  • ...and bells remembered

From the label, based in Venice, California, that has recently produced such classics as Christopher Roberts’s Trios for Deep Voices and the Eclipse Quartet playing Peter Garland’s Second String Quartet, come two pieces from the workshop of John Luther Adams (b1953 – the other Adams), who “came of age playing rock’n’roll”. One piece is large, one is small, and both celebrate the spatial dimensions of nature, their meditative rhythms laced with the gratuitous, flowering sensuality of 21st-century minimalism and impelled by a fascination with found chordal objects.

This is also, to an unusual extent, music not only without bar-lines but perhaps without bars themselves. In Four Thousand Holes (30 minutes for piano and mallet percussion) it’s all about major and minor triads. In …and bells remembered… (10 minutes by the Callithumpian Consort, which pianist Drury founded “sometime in the 1990s…dedicated to the proposition that music is an experience”), it’s about bells.

Extensive web-based documentation details an extraordinary attention to detail on the part of Adams, who describes the intuition-inspired process and art of his compositional activity with the gleeful wizardry of an entomologist bringing a precious subject back to life. It is impressive to imagine anyone actually following such conceptual virtuosity, much less creating the seamless, seemingly organic layers of sound Adams lays out over his structurally precise and infinitely flexible power grids.

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