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New Music Reviews: November 2016

October 13, 2016

CAROLINA EYCK WITH AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY MUSIC ENSEMBLE (ACME)
FANTASIAS FOR THEREMI N AND STRING QUARTET
BUTTERSCOTCH

Theremin charmer Carolina Eyck composes for her native instrument and string quartet; the resulting music sounds like an unruly schoolgirl toying with a band of steely-eyed schoolmarms. Moody and reeling, the strings rage a la Steve Reich, providing a thematic bed over which Eyck revs her spooky Harley engines (“Metsa Happa”), calls out like a lost whale (Oakunar Lynntuja), and whistles like humming sonar (“Dappa Solarjos”). More than anything, Eyck modernizes the Theremin, merging it within classical tradition like child’s play.
KEN MICALLEF

AGAINST ME!
SHAPE SHIFT WITH ME
TOTAL TREBLE

One year after a live album, Against Me! roll the collective momentum into this 12-track follow-up to 2014’s achingly personal Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Recorded by Marc Jacob Hudson, the band’s longtime front-of-house engineer, Shape Shift is immediate without being sonically raw. Staunch drums, husky bass, and densely coiled power chords brace gnashing sociopolitical commentary and rousing shanties, but the dominant crux is, love and heartbreak can be rowdy, bruising, dizzying, brutal, and imperative.
TONY WARE

THEA FARHADIAN
TECTONIC SHIFTS
CREATIVE SOURCES

Real-time computer processing and improvisation are a tricky combination, but violinist Thea Farhadian handles both with exceptional skill and musicality. Serving up a suite of works that combine improv with compositional structures, Farhadian uses Max/MSP to extend her instrument’s timbral and rhythmic palette. The results are an exciting mix of traditional bowedstring tones, extended techniques, layered clusters, glitchy chaos, and even the occasional folk-like fragment. Simultaneously challenging and beautiful, this record reveals more with repeated listenings.
GINO ROBAIR

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