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«Volume 1»

The Swedish trio Reading Music focuses on experimental, contemporary music. The trio – sax player Johan Arrias (who runs the Ausculto Fonogram label), pianist Lisa Ullén (who played with Arrias in doc: Singö Music and Art and a trio with violinist Angharad Davies, Crystalline, Ausculto Fonogram, 2017 and 2020) and sound artist Henrik Olsson (who plays with Arrias in doc: After Hours, Ausculto Fonogram, 2017), seeks to gather and create synergies between contemporary composers and improvising musicians with an interest in open-ended graphic scores and/or other hybrid scores and the performing arts. Reading Music wishes to arouse curiosity and deepen the understanding of contemporary music in general, and encourage new approaches and cross-aesthetic collaborations.

The debut album of Reading Music, Volume 1, offers three commissioned works from 2018. Reading Music notes that while translating these scores into sounds this trio ended up being both lost and found, a notion perceived as a rewarding artistic process of translation and transformation between media and disciplines. The trio hopes that the listeners will get at least a little bit disoriented in translating these sounds if navigating with previous hearing experiences as your compass. These three extended works guarantee insightful and intriguing journeys in and within sounds and elusive sonic structures and would sharpen the listener’s skills. These works reflect the Ausculto Fonogram label mission, as a label of precision and exploration. Ausculto – auscultation  – is by definition an act of listening, a close-up listening of circulation and murmurs of the body, it can be mediated with an instrument (such as the stethoscope) or immediately with the ears alone.

The first work is «Foreign Fridges» by Swedish sound artist and composer Hanna Hartman who focuses on compositions that are made up of authentic sounds that she has recorded around the world. The score resembles a number of wiring diagrams, circuits or simply depicting the back side of an imaginary fridge. Reading Music interpreted this challenging score as a concrete sound design of the most unlikely, foreign fridges. This work suggests music without a story, without any real sense of direction, but with snorting, hissing, shaking and crunching sounds of old fridges that seem to have been going on forever and finally get the musical recognition they long so well deserve.

The second work, «portals», is by American composer-performer-educator Nomi Epstein, and refers to a modern classic, American writer Rebecca Solnits’ A Field Guide To Getting Lost (Penguin Books, 2006), and was composed with the intention of making the performers get lost in it. The score offers a labyrinth of options on how the musicians can relate to each other musically and how they, can find their way through its many different parts and its mutable form by using cues and pre-agreed solutions. This mysterious work invites the performers to an adventurous journey and tempts them to find themselves when don’t know where they have each other in the music anymore, or where they were going and how they got to where they are, but still enjoy this ecstatic experience.

The third and last work, «Der erste Stern ist das letzte Haus», by American composer-guitarist Michael Pisaro-Liu, a member of the Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble. Pisaro-Liu was inspired by the phenomena of falling leaves, any leaves, but mainly by Reiner Maria Rilke’s famous poem «Herbst» (autumn) (Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit, / als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten) (leaves are falling down, as if falling from far away / as if they dried in a garden high in the sky …). «In the poem, they fall outdoors in Autumn. But they are also indoors, as the turning pages of a book produce images that rise and fall in the mind», says Pisaro-Liu. This minimalist, meditative work structures seemingly insignificant events – forty quiet and subtle sound sculptures – in miniature sonic shapes, with a great focus on the nuances of every musical gesture (or leaf). Each gesture is presented in its own right, always unique and at the same time similar to the previous and the following leaves. In the silence between these simultaneously grand and trivial sonic events, the sense of time just seems to get a little bit lost.

Eyal Hareuveni

Johan Arrias (s, garden hose), Lisa Ullén (p, prep. p), Henrik Olsson (contact mics, friction, objects)


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