53

Mason Bates: Stereo Is King

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Mason Bates: Stereo Is King Modern composer and electronics artist Mason Bates is equally comfortable in the worlds of new classical and hip hop. Working closely with the symphony orchestras of San Francisco and Chicago, he has been a driving force in escalating the role of electronics in the orchestra setting. To that end, Bates has put years into the study of flow, process and the acoustics of the classical orchestra. The rewards of this discipline are shared with listeners on Stereo Is King.

Bates previous recording, Digital Loom (MSR Classics, 2009), incorporated similar elements but in a less relative manner, and as though it were the building blocks for Stereo Is King. Less atmospheric than structured, the latter collection consists of six distinctly autonomous works that have little in common with each other beyond the broader genre. Where Bates utilizes electronics, it is with the greatest of refinement and respect for the organic nature of his compositions.

Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the title track is by turns, primitive and ambient. Percussionists Cynthia Yeh, Jacob Nissly and Eric Banks cross paths creating striking vibrations from very basic sources such as marimba, Tibetan prayer bowl and wood blocks. Bates transmutes the sound with electronic breaks and dense bass. Markedly different is "Observer in the Magellanic Cloud," a choral piece performed by the multi-Grammy winning group Chanticleer. The otherworldly composition hovers in a space that is both retrospective and modern.

Bates versatility as a composer is further displayed on "Difficult Bamboo." Multiple tones and sustained shimmering notes paint an idyllic soundscape here, though the twenty-three minute piece is frequently at cross-purpose with an off-kilter repetition of notes. The Claremont Trio—violin, cello and piano—lead "String Band," a modernized version of its namesake until the prepared piano of Donna Kwong morphs the piece into abstraction. Pianist Tania Stavreva closes Stereo Is King with an eye-opening performance. The Bulgarian native's solo performance on "White Lies for Lomax" is a stunning display of intricate blues playing and a highlight of the recording.

Bates is as much a musical visionary as a composer and technician. The assorted works on Stereo Is King bear little surface resemblance to each other though at a deeper level there are likely some very reliable theories and beliefs. The use of instruments as diverse as wood blocks and laptop is in itself a statement of the consistent universality of music in the face of changing technologies. Bates appreciates both natural and scientific developments and uses them independent of their place on the musical continuum. In doing so, he leaves the listener free of typical expectations and open to endless possibilities.


Track Listing: Stereo Is King; Observer in the Megellanic Cloud; Difficult Bamboo; Terrycloth Troposphere; String Band; White Lies for Lomax

Personnel: Mason Bates: composer, electronica; Cynthia Yeh: percussion (1,3); Jacob Nissly: percussion (1), Eric Banks: percussion (1); Baird Dodge: violin (3); Ken Olsen: cello (3); Jennifer Gunn: flute (3); Susan Warner: clarinet (3); Kuang-Hao Huang: piano (3); Cynthia Yeh: percussion (3); Cliff Colnot: conductor (3); Bill Ryan & Grand Valley State New Music Ensemble (4); The Claremont Trio: Emily Bruskin: violin, July Bruskin: cello, Donna Kwong: piano (5); Tania Stavreva, piano (6).

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Innova Recordings


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Reflections Of A Voice" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections Of A Voice
by Chris Mosey
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Black Art Jazz Collective - Presented By The Side Door Jazz Club" CD/LP/Track Review Black Art Jazz Collective - Presented By The Side Door Jazz Club
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 28, 2016
Read "Live At The Open Gate" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Open Gate
by John Sharpe
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 12, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!