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Einar Torfi Einarsson - Quanta [Kairos Music - 2022]

Einar Torfi Einarsson is a modern classical composer from Iceland who creates decidedly darting and jarringly fraught work- which at points moves towards improv/noise-bound territory.  Quanta is a six-piece/twenty-seven-track CD, featuring work for different-sized ensembles. And it most certainly is a release that is guaranteed to keep you on your toes/ very much awake..

Einarsson has seemingly been active since the early 2010s- in both sonic and visual work, though Quanta is the first released album of his own material. It clocks in at the sixty-one-minute mark, and really the tone and mood stays tense and rapidly shifting throughout.

The pieces presented here date from between 2008 and 2012, with each having runtimes between five and seventeen minutes. We open with the nine-tracked piece “Nine Tensions” which is a rather apt title. The works for twelve musicians, and is a rapidly shifting audio map that moves from horn ‘n’ crowing percussion flirts, sudden keynote runs & string shear, and general dart pluck, suddenly slamming percussion- and fair few breaks of silence, which give you little or no time to recover.

Moving on we have the eight-track “Tendencies” which is for oboe, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, violin, and double bass.  Here we move from bass honks, wails and drags. Onto sudden bursts of malevolent and devious orchestration. Through to urgent string picks, and sudden flourishes of more substantial string swoon.  The title track/ work is for twelve musicians- and it dartingly shifts between single instrumental saw, swipes, or swoons. And denser more manic piles-up.

The album plays out with the longest work here “Desiring-Machines” which runs near the fourteen and half minute mark. It’s for twenty-four musicians- and it moves from dense maps of rapidly fiddling scrapes, honks, and knocks.  Through to thick weaves of hisses, scrubs, and slices. I’d say I found this the most wholly rewarding work here,  as it’s more about texture, it moves towards the more tight improv/ noise side of things, and there is a distinct lack of breaks/ silence that many of the other pieces had.

One can certainly praise Einarsson's use of different instrument pitches and tone, and of course his flair for very darting composition. But I’m afraid to say much of Quanta rather left me feeling a little too overloaded & overwhelmed, with not enough of the pieces really standing out in their own right.

Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5

Roger Batty
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