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THE TOUCHABLES

«Svart / Hvitt»
CONRADSOUND, CNRD329CD

The Touchables began as a duo of giant octobass player Guro Skumsnes Moe, known from the avant-rock band MoE and the noise band Sult, and the small, piccolettio violin player and contemporary composer Ole-Henrik Moe. The underappreciated octobass is a 4-meter, 3-string bass beast, originally constructed by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in the 1800s, that demands a distance of at least 21-meter so its lowest, 16-hertz vibration may be heard. The marginalized piccolettio violin, an instrument that enables the very high register of frequencies to come out very loud and clear. These rare instruments allowed The Touchables to focus on microtonal, extreme registers on their debut album «The Noise Is Rest» (ConardSound, 2019, a wordplay on Alex Ross’s book «The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century», Picador, 2008).

«Svart/Hvitt» (Black/White in Norwegian) was commissioned and premiered for nyMusikk’s Only Connect festival in Oslo in 2015 and expands The Touchables’ sonic searches to deeper meditations on low frequencies with a chamber ensemble. «Svart/Hvitt» is comprised of études and exercises made by Guro S. Moe with microtonal instructions from Ole-Henrik Moe. The four pieces are described as «comprovisaition», as they all explore the tension between composition and improvisation. The 9-musicians acoustic ensemble is instructed to perform as highly active listeners, as well as creative co-composers, as all the musicians focus on exploring timbres and microtonality.

The four untitled pieces investigate almost silent, transparent, and highly resonant textures that question the very essence of our listening experience, and how we conceive, conceptualize and affected by the sounds we hear. The careful and methodical bowing of the string instruments, rubbing and touching of the percussion instrument skins, or the delicate extended breathing techniques applied to the reeds and brass instrument, create together endless series of enigmatic, meditative vibrations. These vibrations are occasionally intensified with rough bowing, fragmented percussive sounds and dark overtones and often sketch unbearable and disturbing tension that introduces noise and drone aesthetics, mainly on the second piece.

The best way to experience these unchartered, deep-toned territories is in the best physical manner possible, live and close to the musicians. If not, try experiencing The Touchables in a dark room when the volume is set up to the maximum.

The Touchables already preparing the third phase of its evolution, an arrangement of legendary Japanese noise artist Pain Jerk (aka Gomi Kōhei)’s «Dots Kinematics» (originally released on Pain Jerk’s «Musashino Serenade», AMP, 2019).

Eyal Hareuveni 

Hanne Rekdal (fl, bassoon), Gjertrud Pedersen (bcl, contrabcl), Ole-Henrik Moe (btb, piccoletto vio, viola, c), Martin Taxt (microtonal tuba), Laura Marie Rueslåtten (handbells), Ane Marthe Sørlien Holen (bass dr, perc), Kari Rønnekleiv (vio, viola, c), Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard (b), Guro Skumsnes Moe (octob)

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