Jürg Frey - 120 Pieces Of Sound [Elsewhere Music - 2018]120 Pieces Of Sound presents us with two thirty-to-forty-minute examples of moodily sparse- to- dread filled & dark modern compositions from Swiss composer and clarinettist Jürg Frey.The release comes in the form of a CD on Elsewhere Music- the up & coming US modern composition/ modern classical label.
First, up on the disc we have a composition from 2009 entitled “60 Pieces Of Sound”-this thirty two minute work brings together Frey on clarinet, Laura Cetilia- Cello, Morgan Evans-Weiler- Violin, J.P.A. Falzone- Keyboard, Luke Martin- Electric guitar. The work is built around the players creating a series of sustained drones that are broken up by drifts of complete silence- the drones are laid out in very slowed & considered two-part melody, which gets slowly revealed over the tracks length. The piece creates an interesting effect in the listeners mind- to begin with, your eager for the silence between the sustains to shorten, and disappear- but as time goes on you seem to slow down to the broken pace of the work- readying oneself for the dips in nothingness, as the sustains are half-way done. It feels akin to seeing a stark landscape picture cut apart out & spread wide on a large wall or surface- your mind first moving from one piece to the next trying to join together the pieces as one flowing picture in ones mind's eye. The sustains start & end with hints at the identity of the tone of each instrument- but really the five instruments are brought together to create a simmering bleak & fairly unified glow.
The second track "L’âme est sans retenue II"- was composed & worked on between 1997 & 2000. This the longer of the two tracks coming in at the forty-minute mark- it’s built around a blend of field recordings & Frey’s Bass clarinet. Here once again silence is used in the composition, but instead of more considered & regular use of the first track, here it’s a lot more random/ at times jarring in its application. Between the lull Frey places blocks of rushing searing- that could be either amped-up air con. Fan sounds or rain recordings, and bass bound Clarinet sustains. The whole composition has a murky & grimy sort of dark black industrial ambient feel to it unfolds, and instead of the bleak broken melody line of the first track we get blocks of seared grimness- that rather brought to mind a more slurred later day Scott Walker take on soundscaping. With carefully repeated listens you start to make out more sustained & pared blocks of sound, and this nicely deepens the overall atmosphere of the whole composition.
120 Pieces Of Sound highlights Mr Frey skill at utilizing silence & blocks of sound- giving the listener two very different perspectives on the balance between the two states of sound & non-sound. This is the second release I’ve been impressed with this year from Frey, the other been the excellent Early To Late ( on Another Timbre)- which saw him doing a split release with Stockholm based improviser/composer Magnus Granberg. So I’ll certainly be keeping my out eye for new work from Frey, as well as digging into his back catalogue.Roger Batty