Sudoku 82, a nineteen-minute work for 8 pianos, is best described in the words of the composer:
“Sudoku 82 is one of a series of pieces I have been working on since 2005. There are now over 125 of them that use Apple’s GarageBand software and random procedures culled from the numbers found initially in hexadecimal sudoku puzzles and latterly from online random number generators. I choose the sounds I want and the overall duration, but then let the numbers determine what goes where, how many times, how long, how much silence, and so on. Sudoku 82 used a number of piano loops played on eight pianos at an extremely slow tempo, the result being that the pianists seem to be frozen in time. It was Jim Fox who suggested that the piece might be performed ‘live’ rather than using samples as I had originally done. This is therefore the first of the series to come off the computer and into the recording studio, and I am delighted with the result, which is dedicated to Jim Fox, whose music and predisposition towards slow tempos I have admired for many years.” (taken from the CD notes)
There is almost little to say about this CD single that isn’t in that above paragraph. Bryan Pezzone, the pianist, seems trapped in a beautiful glassy spiral of slowly drifting gestures. The loops are by no means predictable nor have they worn out their welcome after a third of an hour. Instead the loops provide the firmament of the composition and also the means by which Hobbs creates any sense of disruption. A single loop pops up that provides a bit of harmonic zing! every so often. It always seems to come at the right time.
I’ve been known to leave this disc on repeat for quite a while. The ambient flow of the composition and performance lend itself to directionless listening. You listen to this piece as if it was a bath you were taking. Soak in it for as long as you’d like, until your ears are all pruney and you need to towel off. The process that created the work may be random but Hobbs’ guiding ear still crafts a work of endless listenability.