Ambitious projects like Hubert Nuss
' The Book of Colours
are not unheard of. Here, the German pianist endeavors to explore multiple modes based on a color wheel. Russian synesthete and composer Alexander Scriabin was profoundly moved by the smell and feel of color in his composing, attempting a synthesis of the five senses in his unfinished Mysterium
that was to have been realized as a week-long combination of music, scent, dance, and lightall performed in the foothills of the Himalayas where, in the words of the composer, listeners would experience "a grandiose religious synthesis of all arts which would herald the birth of a new world." Scriabin went mad, and ultimately died from an infected bee sting on his lip, before he could fully arrange the piece.
Nuss fares considerable better than Scriabin in transforming his musical/optical ideas into composition and performance. One of his experiments is a catatonic blues, "Another Kind of Paris (Mode III, 2)." To say that the piece has a low hum of anxiety is a bit of an understatement. This is music that might be heard in a mental institution's after- hours lounge, following a cocktail of Thorazine and Cogentin. Nuss achieves a very low-keep, off-above-the-eyebrows mood, with a piece that is clothed in dust and shadows. Bassist John Goldsby
prods the piece forward with a schizophrenic noir walk that anticipates the entrance of Sam Spade following his upstairs lobotomy. This is great and moody stuff.