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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Triple Point, Phase/Transitions, Pauline Oliveros, Doug Van Nort, Jonas Braasch

The rise of live electronics with instrumentalists in the new music world is very much with us today. This can be confirmed by the many releases devoted to such performance practices. A very good example is today's 3-CD set, Triple Point and their Phase/Transitions (Pogus 21078-2), recorded in New York State between 2008-2012. The essential lineup is that of Pauline Oliveros, on V-Accordion, an electronically enhanced version of the instrument that produces what the liners call "physically-modelled acoustics", Doug Van Nort on the Granular-feedback Expanded Instrumentation System (GREIS) and electronics, and Jonas Braasch on soprano sax.

The music consists of a number of shorter segments of improvisation. Van Nort uses GREIS to take the original instrument signal feed and transform it, making a commentary on what is being played or transforming the musical input into entirely different terms (e.g., adding to the soundscape). For a number of segments the machine improvisation system known as FILTER performs in tandem with the trio. Some other segments feature Chris Chafe on celletto, performing remotely over the internet from Canada.

The three CDs cover a wide range of moods and sounds, all in the more-or-less "new music" zone, which is to say that timbre manipulation and contrasts play out in real time in an improvisatory context. Braasch's soprano is nearly always to be heard in its pure acoustic state along with its transformation by Van Nort. Ms. Oliveros' accordion sometimes can be heard clearly in its pristine form. Much of the time the sounds are electronically altered in varying degrees so that it sometimes sounds much more like keyed electronics. The electronics of Van Nort can be heard at times as a third instrumental element. At other times they mesh with Ms. Oliveros' sound transformations to create a kind of electronic-orchestral commingling.

What captivates in most of these trio improvisations in the sheer inventiveness of the sonic designs. Some segments flow with long-toned sounds played out against more eventful noted-ness from the soprano, accordion, electronics, or all in various combinations. Other segments are more-or-less pure give-and-take contrapuntal interactions.

Three CDs of such music is a great deal to absorb. It takes time and "deep listening" to completely assimilate. I can't say I am quite there yet. But I can say that this music has moments that stun in the best way. There are mellow segments and others somewhat abrasive. But they do not repeat themselves. Avant jazz, new music and electronic music converge on Triple Point. And the three artists in the process become one creative music-making being.

It no doubt is music of some importance for the avant scene today. It carries on the premises of the seminal live electronics-acoustics outfits from the first days of such possibilities and makes something wholly unique and fascinating out of it all.

Sonic adventurers will most definitely gravitate towards this set. Recommended for all those who dare go beyond the ordinary.


  1. Thank you Grego Applegate for your incisive review. Much appreciated!

    Pauline Oliveros

  2. My pleasure, Pauline. The music has that sort of open-ended quality that means I will enjoy hearing it quite a few times in future. It is a real achievement!! Glad to hear from you as well. Thanks for the good word.