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Yarn/Wire Ensemble: Currents 0

Karl Ackermann By

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From their roots at Stony Brook University in 2005, the dual percussion/dual piano quartet Yarn/Wire has taken an uncommon approach to experimental music. In the case of Currents 0 the jazz roots are strong even as the interpretations are wide open. A continuing sequence of projects under the umbrella of 'Currents' has generated more than one dozen collective works, typically from like-minded experimentalists. This "prequel" release, however, indicated an initial interest in work of more established, if not conventional, jazz artists.

Yarn/Wire is Ian Antonio and Russell Greenberg, both on an array of percussion instruments, and Laura Barger and Ning Yu on pianos. Barger is a faculty member at City University of New York (CUNY). Yu has worked with Steve Reich and Terry Riley and is an assistant professor of piano and chamber music at George Washington University. Antonio has worked in chamber ensembles, orchestras, and rock bands, and is on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College. He has recorded on the Nonesuch and Tzadik labels, among others. Also a college educator, Russell is a member of Either/OR and has composed for the New York stage as well.

Currents 0 consists of three long compositions from an eclectic set of composers. "Music for Ensemble and Pitch Shifter/Delay" is from Tyondai Braxton, the son of Anthony Braxton. The younger Braxton is primarily a composer who—when performing his own works—plays synthesizer and electronics. The piece, which doesn't appear to have been previously recorded, is a series of repetitive piano patterns, augmented by a variety of percussion sections including bells and marimba. The combination of rhythms and tones, pitches and harmonies bleed together resulting in a surprisingly textured piece. "De Clocher á Clocher" is a commissioned composition by Nathan Davis. The great improviser Peter Evans contributes the final composition "Return." At just over twenty-minutes, it is, not surprisingly, the most abstract of the pieces with prolonged silences, cicada-like percussive effects and crashing piano chords. Dispersed throughout are classically influenced piano melodies that impart additional levels of density.

Antonio and Greenberg bring an astounding musicality to their percussion arsenal as do Yu and Barger on their instruments. It all blends together in a genre-less elasticity that moves seamlessly between noise, the avant-garde and lyricism. Currents 0 has a curious appeal that will likely lead adventurous listeners to look at what came after.

Track Listing: Music for Ensemble and Pitch Shifter/Delay; De Clocher á Clocher; Returns.

Personnel: Laura Barger: piano; Ning Yu: piano; Ian Antonio: percussion; Russell Greenberg: percussion.

Title: Currents 0 | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

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