Various - The Harmonic Series Volume 2 3xLP


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Label: Important

A collection of long-form works in just intonation by Kali Malone, Duane Pitre, Catherine Lamb, Tashi Wada, Byron Westbrook, and Caterina Barbieri. Each artist occupies an entire side of the collection's three LPs. Curated by Duane Pitre, Important Records returns with its second volume of compiled works in just intonation. The Harmonic Series Volume 2, issued as a triple-LP collection, features a series of long-form compositions by six of the most important emerging voices of contemporary experimental music. Unlike equal temperament, which equally divides an octave into 12 fixed notes, just intonation utilizes intervals of whole number ratios to determine tonal positions. It results in a highly individualized tonal language and holds the potential for more nuanced relationships and striking, sympathetic resonances.

Rooted in ideas that trace their way across the last 2500 years, just intonation lays at the foundation for numerous Indian, Persian, and East Asian musical traditions. It was reintroduced into western music during the 20th century by composers like Harry Partch, Ben Johnston, Lou Harrison, James Tenney, Terry Riley, and La Monte Young. An interest in just intonation has continued to swell following the appearance of The Harmonic Series in 2009 inspiring Pitre to curate a second compilation. Kali Malone's "Pipe Inversions" – played by Malone on a small pipe organ, joined by Isak Hedtjärn on bass clarinet – belongs to a larger body of microtonal organ works that have increasingly placed the composer at the forefront of contemporary minimalism and drone music. Across the length of Duane Pitre's "Three for Rhodes" – a chamber piece for "unknown instrumentation" - deconstructed rhythms and melodic fragments swell in a dance of harmonic interplay, rising and falling within the work's engrossing architectural complexity. Catherine Lamb's "inter sum" – one of a tiny number of available works to encounter the composer and renowned violist working on synthesizer – endeavors to break the visualization of harmony as a vertical reality, rendering it multidimensionally in space. A canon for eight-violins played by Marc Sabat, Tashi Wada's "Midheaven (Alignment Mix)" – guided by the internal logic of its tuning system – shape-shifts into an elegantly poetic form of musical conceptualism. Byron Westbrook's "Memory Phasings" – composed and recorded on a combination of computer controlled modular synthesizers and a Yamaha TX802 – employs the ratios of just intonation as harmonic building blocks for texture. Deploying just intonation as a means for psycho-physiological exploration, Caterina Barbieri's "Firmamento" – composed for synthesizer – deftly intervenes with the expectations of minimalism, durational music, and drone.