One History of Troy by Chen I Pitcher I Van Nort
This album was recorded in 2012 by the free improvising trio of Jonathan Chen (violin, viola), Jefferson Pitcher (guitars, clarinet, field recordings, playground – its metal structures being used as a percussion set-up) and Doug van Nort (electronics, GREIS = Granular-Feedback Expanded Instrument System, van Nort’s own ever-evolving performance system and digital music instrument). The title refers to the town of Troy, New York, home of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with which the three artists have been involved with during their career. Their shared memories of living and working in Troy shine through as a conceptual basis for the improvisations on this album. Titles like “The Hudson” and “Northern White Pine” situate the music in a geographical location – but the field recordings from different places, such as Chefchaouen Province in Morocco, open up this history to other sound-worlds.
The album is dedicated to the late Pauline Oliveros, with whom all three musicians collaborated during her lifetime. It is a fitting tribute to an artist with such a wide range of interests, abilities and fields of influence. Certainly, Oliveros’ focus on deep listening as a key to creating one’s own sounds is present not only in the mindful way the musicians interact with each other, but also in the way they integrate non-musical sounds from field recordings into their instrumental interplay. Likewise, the interfacing of acoustic instruments and live electronics that Oliveros pioneered in her expanded accordion set-ups is used to great effect by Chen, Pitcher, and van Nort. Instrumental and electronic timbres blend seamlessly, with harmonic/melodic and noisy elements perfectly balanced. The album is dominated by calm, rather meditative pieces which exude a certain melancholy – quite apt for a tribute by three artists to a deceased colleague and friend. However, the final piece “Chefchaouen Province | American Town” develops into an exuberant powerplay that makes the sheer joy of sculpting and connecting sounds, be they notes or noises, almost tangible. And, now even more than at the time of recording, the peaceful coexistence of an Arabic chant with an American brass band within said piece can also be heard as a sonic utopia, an acoustic glimpse of an alternative, and better, reality.
For Pauline Oliveros
All Pieces composed and improvised by Jonathan Chen, Jefferson Pitcher, Doug Van Nort.
Recorded in Jefferson's basement and stairwell, early summer 2012.
Mixed by Jefferson Pitcher at Shumoto Sound Room.
Final mixing, editing, and mastering by Ron Guensche at New Future Vintage in Okaland, CA.
1. Sailing I Open Water I Land 06:23
2. Moving I Stone 06:42
3. Residue I European Bells 06:09
4. The Hudson 05:47
5. Northern White Pine 05:32
6. Chefchaouen Province I American Town 09:56
Jonathan Chen I Violin, Viola
Jefferson Pitcher I Guitars, Clarinet, Field Recordings, Playground
Doug Van Nort I GREIS, Electronics
Ambient, Drone, Glitch, Musique Concrète
Digital / Download, LP 33 1/3