Liquid Metal DreamingLiquid Metal Dreaming

Laurie Scott Baker and Robert Evans

MCPS “What is Music, Volume 1″

Liquid Metal Dreaming, Seghill Ballad, Pythagoras Clocks-Off & heads for the Ruperra Arms, Pythagorean Ground, The Alchemists of East Moors, Texting Robbie Burns, Pressure, Release, Bhopal Thoughts

Everything on this album is derived from natural harmonics of a wide assortment of instruments (Robert Evans plays crwth, Indian tambura, lyre, fiddle, and sings while Laurie Scott Baker plays double bass, electric upright bass, and percussion), giving each track has a glassy and eerily haunting-yet-soothing quality. The pitch language, however limited, sounds no more limited or constrained than any other pitch collection choice. If anything, the decision to use only natural harmonics adds a layer of timbral interest as well as a keen “show off” factor. I wouldn’t be able to make such interesting sound from the same collection of pitches. I love that Evans and Baker can.

This might sound like a new-age, ambient disc. That is a fair assessment of the language, sure, but the disc is not without contrast. Pythagorean Ground and Texting Robbie Burns seem more traditionally melodic in structure than the other tracks. Pressure, not a cover of the Billy Joel song, has wonderful color and dramatic shape. One could just put this on as background music, but one shouldn’t. There is a lot more to listen to than might originally meet the ears. This disc is a perfect Volume 1 for “What is Music?” I can’t wait to see what volume 2 contains.

2 Responses to “Liquid Metal Dreaming”
  1. Is this Spectralism?

  2. Not in a Tristan Murail sense, no. The choice to limit musical materials to natural string harmonics seems to be an arbitrary one. The music is not specifically “about” natural harmonics, it just doesn’t use any pitches from outside that collection. Please don’t read “arbitrary” as a negative trait. They made a decision to limit their pitch and instrumental material and that decision, that is all.

    The spectral/timbral qualities of the music are certainly important to the sound world of the music, but the disc is not what I consider “spectralism.” You could compose this music without using natural harmonics. These artists chose not to do so. I’m glad they did because the colors are really vibrant and cool.

    I hope that helps. I might not be operating from a standardized definition of “spectralism,” so I hope I answered your question. Hearing it yourself will communicate much more effectively than my random babblings. Here is a site that has 2 minute sound clips of each track:

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