CD cover artElemental

electroacoustic music by

Robert Scott Thompson

Aucourant Records

  • Out of the Vivid Air
  • Waters of Cabeus (A)
  • Shinrin-yoku
  • Embers

These four compositions by Robert Scott Thompson, all for fixed digital audio playback, blend notions of the natural and unnatural worlds. All the sounds used are crisp and clean, elegantly placed in time, and each work progresses at a slow and unencumbered pace. Most of the sonic materials are drawn from natural sources: water, wind, or simple percussion sounds and the synthetic elements grow into and out of these natural sounds so deftly that it can be hard to tell how much you are hearing is, in fact, artificial. Shinrin-yoku, with its obvious instrumental timbres, never quite sounds like it is either instrument or environment. Lots of attention is given to spatialization and these works would do extremely well in a surround format. So much of this music is based on where things happen that I feel the stereo field is a bit of a let down. Be that as it may, these organic and ambient tracks are splendidly created and infinitely listenable.

CD cover art Delicate Balance

F. Gerard Errante, clarinet

Aucourant Records

  • Water Crossing ~ Alex Shapiro
  • Echoes of the Invisible ~ Peter Terry
  • Passage ~ Robert Scott Thompson
  • Circles in the Sky ~ Jane Brockman
  • Breath ~ Joseph Harchanko
  • Equanimity ~ Robert Mackay
  • Midway Inlet ~ McGregor Boyle
  • Cherry Blossom and a Wrapped Thing ~ Judith Shatin
  • A Little Night Music ~ Douglas Quin
  • rain of the heart, reign of the soul ~ D. Gause

The purpose of this disc was to collect works for clarinet and electronics that were “calm, peaceful and tranquil, perhaps being suitable for relaxation and contemplation.” Every composition succeeds in this goal. The music is indeed calm and tranquil with soft droning synths and slow moving harmonies. Rhythmic activity is kept light, as with the groove in Shapiro’s Water Crossing, and for the most part each piece consists of mellow string pads underneath a long drifting clarinet line. Robert Scott Thompson’s Passage stands out for tying in the high and bright clarinet sound into the electronic fabric of the accompaniment. Breath by Joseph Harchanko pulls its inspiration from Vipassana meditation to great affect, making a work that is sonically unlike the others and a welcome break from the clarinet/synthesizer dichotomy in other pieces. The quietude and spaciousness of Judith Shatin’s Cherry Blossom and a Wrapped Thing are wonderful things. Cherry Blossom has rich and sumptuous electronics that envelope the clarinet in a blissful and dreamy sonic fabric. Through all of these pieces, F. Gerard Errante maintains excellent control in blending the clarinet timbre with whatever electronics are present. It can be difficult to make calm music compelling but each piece, and Errante’s playing, keep me listening.

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