Improvised electronics have finally come of age. Some players simply use digital signal processing (eg. distortion, phasing, reverb) to allow them the opportunity to alter the tonality of their instruments. Others prefer to use a sampler to provide a second voice against which to improvise. The more advanced advocates of electronic improvisation perform processing, sampling, and looping in real timemaking the electronic part of the performance just as 'live' and dynamic as the instrumental improv. This is thetruefusion, and only recently have the necessary electronic tools become widely available to players without a degree in electrical engineering.
Mark Whitecage is an example of a purely acoustic player who turned to electronics (in 1998) as a way of expanding his range of expression. Though under-documented, Whitecage has been active in progressive music circles since the sixties. On Turning Point, his acoustic instruments consist of the alto sax and the clarinet. All electronic manipulations appear to be saxophone- and clarinet-derived. The performance exists entirely in real time, although there are usually several melodies happening at once. Whitecage relies primarily upon looping and effects to deliver improvised lines, against which he can then improvise.
The general feel of Turning Point is one of uneasy oscillation: waves of sound undulate and crash before being reborn in a myriad of mutant derivations. Whitecage achieves climax and resolution by building density, dissonance, and altered tonalityand then relaxing them. This music can be appreciated at many levels, but perhaps the best approach is to simply view it as a maritime voyage: both busy storm and glassy quietude have their place in this always-active ocean of sound.
Be aware that Turning Point is strictly available by mail order and at concerts. Visit Mark Whitecage on the web.
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