Royal Livermush Music
I have had the fortune of knowing Mark Snyder and his music for the last few years, so please consider this statement a warning of my own bias.
Snyder’s music does not follow the aesthetic of “instrument as effects machine” when combining a live performer with live-processing. Instead, the role of the computer is much more ambient and serves to enhance and extend the sound of the performer. His music is expansive, expressive, and extremely human. The technology involved is not the most advanced and sophisticated outside of the fact that this music is, from a technical and technological aspect, approachable and satisfying. Snyder’s work attracts performers who resist to works with electronics as well as audiences who don’t think they want to hear computer processing.
Snyder’s style is consistent throughout: slowly unfolding instrumental melodies are enhanced and allowed to spin in an electronically created space. Where some composers might favor the sound of the computer over that of the live performer, Snyder always keeps the main emotional and musical content very firmly rooted in the person on the stage. Snyder uses spectral enhancements to keep the sound alive as well as build ambient layers of material to sculpt the form of the piece. Spoken words, children at play, and other very human sounds permeate the prerecorded material. The end result might not be the pristine technical perfection sought by some, but the music is rich with intimate emotional resonance.
The one-man multimedia show that Mark Snyder has been touring in recent years combines his work as a composer, multi-instrument performer (tuba, clarinet, and accordion), and video artist. This collection of pieces is, in many ways, a wonderful and logical extension of his tour but, at the same time, owners of the CD will be missing the video component so vital to the majority of the tracks presented here. Fortunately for us all, he sells a DVD to rectify this problem.