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KATE GENTILE | INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE

«b i o m e i.i»
OBLIQUITY

b i o m e i.i is a 13-movement composition by American, Brooklyn-based percussionist Kate Gentile. The composition was commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble when Gentile took part in the Ensemble’s 2020-2021 Artist-in-Residence program. b i o m e i.i was recorded at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon, New York, in April 2021 and premiered on May 2022 at Roulette. The album is released on Gentile’s and her partner Matt Mitchell’s newly founded label Obliquity.

Gentile began composing b i o m e i.i by inventing titles based purely on alphabetical preferences; invented words that were sonically and visually pleasing, with an intention that the music would feel alien and abstract. She enjoyed her synesthesia-like ideas where letters and words are colors. Later on, this kind of ‘dream logic’ of the music triggered a back-story of invented meaning for the titles. The liner notes for b i o m e i.i add esoteric explanations that connect all the titles, including a glossary of terms, accompanied by drawings and diagrams. Many definitions refer to other definitions, creating a reference web reflecting the musical connections between pieces while painting a picture of alien ecologies on a distant moon orbiting a gas giant. Gentile also did the semi-psychedelic cover artwork that corresponds with the story.

b i o m e i.i is a highly imaginative and playful composition, satisfying the curious, thoughtful mind and engaging the body. The chamber music, with enough room for individual improvisations, is intriguing, inviting the listener into a magical garden, full of surprising, labyrinthian paths, with its own tactile sonic ecosystem and inner rhythmic logic. The International Contemporary Ensemble, with pianist Cory Smythe, performs the eccentric and demanding pieces brilliantly. Gentile sounds like an integral member of the ensemble, and the seven musicians sound together as a small orchestra.

You can find in some of the pieces echoes of the compositional ideas of sax player Tim Berne (who performed with Gentile), who compliments Gentile’s writing as «intriguing, dramatic, and emotionally expressive». But the best compliment came from Smythe who said that Gentile somehow «managed to turn the International Contemporary Ensemble into a menagerie of oozing, skittering, flapping sonic symbionts».

Eyal Hareuveni

Isabel Lepanto Gleicher (fl piccolo), Jennifer Curtis (vio), Joshua Rubin (cl, bcl), Rebekah Heller (bassoon), Ross Karre (vib, perc), Cory Smythe (p), Kate Gentile (dr, perc)

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