Peter Ablinger - Against Nature [Kairos Music - 2021]
Against Nature brings together four unbalancing at times searing pieces from Austrian composer Peter Ablinger. The pieces here are for several types of flutes, electronics, and voice- with this CD release having a runtime of just shy of seventy-three minutes.
The release appeared at the tail end of last year on Vienna based Kairos Music- who focus on putting out modern classical/ modern composition releases. The CD comes presented in a four-panel mat digipak- this features a glossy stuck on inlay booklet, which features both English & German texts- it takes in a four-page write-up about the longest piece here, related images/pictures, bios and full credits.
The players on the disc are Berlin-based flautist Erik Drescher, who is credited here as utilizing the following voice, glissando flute, organ pipes, bottles, bird pipes, bass flute, piccolo, and small wooden flute. And Ablinger himself, who appears later on the disc utilizing voice and electronics.
The first piece here is the title track, which was composed in 2020. It runs at just over the fifty-two-minute mark, and is split into fifty-nine tracks that each last around the minute mark. Inside the release booklet, we get a full list of the different types of flute/ flute-like instruments used for each of the tracks, and basically, the piece is a journey into the balance wavering and at times woozily pitch-shifting possibilities of the instrument, as we get presented with first one tone dwell/ shift after another. Even after playing this work a few times, I’m still surprised by both the pitches that are created & shifted, but equally the wonderful unpredictable at points quite ear searing flow of the whole thing. Like much of Ablinger's work Against Nature is very much a full-on sonic sensors experience- it moves from being alien and slyly playful, onto wonkily seared and warblingly wavering- with the presentation of the tones going from darting and shrill, onto forking and baying, through to shimmering and glowing. It's a piece that will certainly keep you feeling very taut, tense and very much aware throughout.
The title piece, of course, takes over the lion's share of the CD, and the other three pieces here are-"Nichts( nothing) for two drums"- this was composed in 1983, and I presume by its title was original for percussion. once again we find Drescher playing the flute, which for this track he’s playing solo. And for this four and a half minute track we get these stabbing and pulsing tones, which feel more synth-like/ electronic in their attack/ timbre- so I’m not sure how he’s creating this effect, but it’s rather interesting, making for a more consistent, though still unbalancing take on the instrument. Next, we have “Consideration 19” from 1988 which is spread over nine tracks- and here we find around eight minutes of uncertain, and almost child-like piping and darting flute tones. It's a track that feels both brightly uncertain, and almost American Indian feel to its attack, with it rather reminding me of a loser Peter Garland composition. Final we have “Acht Zeichnungen( Eight Drawings)” this is from 2020, and is split into seven tracks, running near the eight-minute mark. It's for electronics and is built around a selection of pitch wavering and drifting tones- which often have a warbling and whistling quality- again another different sounding composition.
Anything with Peter Ablinger name is always going to be a challenging yet rewarding experience, and that’s exactly what this release is. For those who enjoy modern classical music that is often unbalancing and brain skewing Against Nature is for you.Roger Batty