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Insub Meta Orchestra: Choices and Melodies

John Eyles By

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Switzerland's Insub Meta Orchestra (IMO) opted to release their fourth album, 13 and 27, on the UK-based Another Timbre label instead of the INSUB label that had issued their first three recordings. Now, with their fifth, Choices and Melodies, they have reverted to INSUB. The music on 13 and 27 consisted of two compositions by d’incise and Cyril Bondi, the driving forces behind IMO and INSUB; those two pieces were recorded at Studio Ernest Ansermet, in Geneva, in July 2016. The music on Choices and Melodies also consists of two compositions by d'incise and Bondi, recorded at Studio Ernest Ansermet, in Geneva, in July 2016... and exactly the same thirty-two musicians played on both albums. In nearly every respect, the two albums are companion-pieces, except the labels on which they were released, and the fact that Choices and Melodies is not issued on CD but on vinyl (with a download code enclosed); maybe that explains the shift back to INSUB.

Turning to the music itself, we find that, in different ways, the album's two tracks each display d'incise and Bondi's customary knack of making IMO sound far smaller than it actually is and, so, keeping it uncluttered. The first track, "Two Choices," instructed players to produce two sounds per person, with the possibility of change every five seconds. Although that instruction may sound rigid, the resulting soundscape is both subtle and fluid; it features quite a few breathy, hissing, white-noise sounds that ebb and flow dynamically in a most pleasing manner. Although the track runs for just over sixteen minutes—maybe limited by the length of an LP side—there seems to be no practical or aesthetic reason why it should not last far longer.

In contrast to the relative tranquillity of "Two Choices," the B-side track, "Autonomous Melodies," manages to be atypical of IMO by being considerably louder; as with the A-side, though, it does still avoid clutter. IMO members perform short melodic fragments that overlap and combine together into a multi-layered, constantly-shifting ensemble sound. With close attention, individual instrumental strands can be separated from the overall piece, but that is comparable to following one particular strand of thread in a large, rich tapestry...and just as pointless.

Irrespective of details of label and format, the two tracks here are valuable additions to the repertoire of IMO and should further enhance the ensemble's already excellent reputation.

Track Listing: Two Choices; Autonomous Melodies.

Personnel: Alexis Degrenier: hurdy-gurdy; Anna-Kaisa Meklin: viola da gamba; Angelika Sheridan: flutes; Antoine Läng: voice; Anouck Genthon: violin; Bertrand Gauguet: saxophone; Brice Catherin: cello; Bruno Crochet: laptop; Christophe Berthet: saxophone; Cyril Bondi: conduction, harmonium; d’incise: laptop, harmonium; Daniel Tyrell: acoustic guitar; Dorothea Schürch: voice; Eric Ruffing: analog synthesiser; Gerald Pereera: electric double bass; Hans Koch: clarinet; Heike Fiedler: voice; Ivan Verda: electric guitar; Jamasp Jhabvala: violin; Luc Müller: floor tom, melodica; Maxime Hänsenberger: percussion, melodica; Raphaël Ortis: laptop; Regula Gerber: double bass; Rodolphe Loubatière: snare drum, melodica; Sébastien Branche: saxophone; Sandra Weiss: bassoon; Steve Buchanan: saxophone; Thierry Simonot: laptop; Violeta Motta: flutes; Vinz Vonlanthen: electric guitar; Wanda Obertova: voice; Yann Leguay: electronics.

Title: Choices and Melodies | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Insubordinations Netlabel

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