“When Dark Sounds Collide” is a collaborative project between Pathos Trio, and composers Alyssa Weinberg, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Alan Hankers, Finola Merivale, and Evan Chapman, dedicated to presenting newly commissioned works for two percussionists and piano in the form of this full length LP and accompanying music videos produced by Philadelphia based audio/film/videography company Four/Ten Media.
The commissions featured on this album seek to combine aesthetics of contemporary classical music with the ensemble's interests in dark, heavy, dense sounds drawn from other genres of music such as alternative rock, cathedral music, minimalist music, electronic synth-wave, and more. As a result, each work on this album creates raw, edgy, and powerful soundscapes that will engage audiences in both mainstream and classical/ new music scenes.
|01||fiction of light|
fiction of light
|05||Distance Between Places|
Distance Between Places
Pathos Trio’s When Dark Sounds Collide features five new commissions that combine aesthetics of contemporary classical music with the ensemble's interests in dark, heavy, dense sounds drawn from other genres of music such as alternative rock, cathedral music, minimalist music, electronic synth-wave, and more. The trio (percussionists Felix Reyes and Marcelina Suchocka and pianist Alan Hankers) perform with energy and precision, attacking their repertoire with a sureness that resembles a touring band’s well oiled setlist.
The album opens with Evan Chapman's fiction of light which marries minimalism, elements of electronic music, and a propulsive pulse. Also an active video artist, Chapman was inspired by the mysterious relationship between light and color, and sought to explore similar dynamics within an ensemble. fiction of light employs subtle electronics sent directly to the performers’ handheld devices, integrating the sounds directly from each player’s physical position inside the group.
Alison Yun-Fei Jiang's Prayer Variations is in a theme and variations form, as a simple melody unfolds and accumulates gradually. Inspired by expansive cathedral spaces, Prayer Variations is primarily led by its piano part, with percussion providing increasing intensity as the texture grows. Towards the end of the work, it recedes into a halo not unlike the space in which it began.
Alyssa Weinberg's Delirious Phenomena opens with an infectious groove which features all three members of the trio playing prepared piano. Over taut rhythms and scrapes, disembodied melodies emerge. As the piece progresses, the rigor of the pulse dissipates and an ethereal texture emerges, integrating wordless singing over a series of shifting drones. Rhythmic regularity returns for the final section piece, which is also marked by material played conventionally on the piano keyboard.Read More
Finola Merivale's oblivious/oblivion grapples with the urgency of the climate catastrophe. The foreboding character of the work is apparent from the opening cymbal and gong crashes, as haunting sounds slowly emerge from bowed percussion. Much of the work’s structure seems to be framed by inexorable intensifications of energy, contrasted with fragile, reflective passages. With this duality, Merivale encapsulates the power of the external forces that are beyond human control, and the painful introspection that comes with our collective crisis.
Pianist Alan Hankers contributes the final work on the recording, Distance Between Places. The work opens with an exploratory introduction, as repeated pitches in the high register of the piano and pitched percussion shimmer and grow towards tolling bass notes which provide increasing rhythmic impetus. Splashes of syncopated piano voicings intertwine with angular percussion as overlapping cycles of pulse careen towards arrival points. Hankers compares the work to “an amalgamation of independent sounds one might associate with a busy city,” and the middle of the work moves through a series of fluid sections that explore interrelated, if not necessarily interdependent, material in the three parts. Also engaged with the relationship between soundscape and memory, the work recalls the resolute pulsed material towards the end of the piece, filtered through the inevitable abstraction of recollection.
Pathos Trio is cultivating a new repertoire for an under explored instrumentation that reflects the genre fluid aesthetics of many active contemporary composers. When Dark Sounds Collide reflects that fluidity, as well as the group’s versatility in realizing these composers’ visions.
– Dan Lippel
Tracks 1-2 recorded at Rittenhouse Soundwork, in Philadelphia, PA - June 5th, 2021
Tracks 3-4 recorded at MISE-EN Place Greenpoint, in Brooklyn, NY - June 10th, 2021
Track 5 recorded at Riverside Church, in Manhattan, NY - November 19th, 2019
All tracks were recorded, edited, produced, mixed, and mastered by Four/Ten Media
Art Direction and Design by Michal Kopanski
"Shattering head" render by brainmaster
"Lights and stripes moving fast over dark background" render by cherezoff
“Elevated themselves into those elite ranks alongside Yarn/Wire, Tigue, So Percussion, Iktus and Ensemble Et Al”, as described by the New York Music Daily, Pathos Trio (percussionists Marcelina Suchocka, Felix Reyes, and pianist/composer Alan Hankers) is committed to engaging classical/contemporary music, while also aiming to bring adventurous music to audiences through collaborations with young, living new music composers.
Their current project “When Dark Sounds Collide: New Music for Percussion and Piano”, the ensemble’s first album, comprises a collection of newly commissioned works for two percussionists and piano written by composers Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Evan Chapman, Alyssa Weinberg, Alan Hankers, and Finola Merivale recorded by Grammy nominated film company Four/Ten Media. This project album will be released in Spring 2022 and is graciously supported by New Music USA, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Artist Relief, along with the help of funds allocated from Chamber Music America, Pathos Trio being a recipient of a Chamber Music America Ensemble Forward Grant, made possible with generous support from the New York Community Trust.
Raved by the New York Times for his multi-media work, Evan Chapman is a composer, percussionist, and filmmaker based in Philadelphia, PA. Co-founder of multi-award winning media group Four/Ten Media alongside Kevin Eikenberg, and founding member of Philadelphia based bad Square Peg Round Hole, his recordings, compositions, and performances can be seen on major outlets like I Care If You Listen, Vic Firth, and NPR.
As an active performer, most notably as drummer in the instrumental percussion work/ electronic trio Square Peg Round Hole (dubbed a “creative adventure” by Bob Boilen of NPR), the group’s been direct support for headlining bands like The Bad Plus, Dawn of Midi, and Kneebody.
Canadian composer Alison Yun-Fei Jiang explores the intersections of genres and cultures by drawing inspirations and influences from an array of sources such as East Asian aesthetics, Chinese opera, Canadian natural landscapes, Buddhism, film music, popular music, and literature, creating musical narratives and experiences in a lyrical, dynamic, and storytelling nature.
Alison is a Carrefour Composer-In-Residence with the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada (2020-22). She has collaborated with ensembles such as Esprit Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, JACK Quartet, the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Imani Winds, and Molinari Quartet.
Some of her awards and recognitions can be seen from ASCAP, the SOCAN Foundation, the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers, the American Prize, and International Alliance for Women in Music.
Composer Alyssa Weinberg is best-known for crafting visceral, communicative scores, which have been lauded for their “frenetic yet cohesive musical language” (icareifyoulisten) and “heavyweight emotional dimensions.” (bachtrack) Alyssa finds collaboration deeply inspiring, and her music pulls concepts from her work with writers, dancers and visual artists.
Her music has been commissioned and performed by some of the most accomplished artists and ensembles around the world, including eighth blackbird, So Percussion, yMusic, and the Aizuri Quartet, as well as the Minnesota Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Finola Merivale is an Irish composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music, living in New York. She is a DMA candidate in Composition at Columbia University, where she is studying with George Lewis, Georg Friedrich Haas and Zosha Di Castri. Her music has been performed internationally and featured at festivals such as Huddersfield, the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival and the Contemporary Music Festival of Buenos Aires. Her works have been played by International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Crash Ensemble, and musicians of the Chicago and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, amongst others.
She was recently named the winner of the National Concert Hall and Sounding the Feminists’ Music Recording Award in Ireland – a grant that will fund the release of her debut album. She is currently working on Out of the Ordinary – the world’s first community opera in virtual reality – commissioned by Irish National Opera. In 2020, she was a winner of the inaugural National Sawdust New Works Commission Competition, and was awarded a four-month residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.
Described as “atmospheric and striking” by Outburn Magazine, Alan Hankers has been praised as a keyboardist by Metal Hammer (UK) and Prog Magazine. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia at venues such as Lincoln Center, New World Center, Koger Center for the Performing Arts, and Musikhusset Aarhus. He was the 2017/18 Composer-in-Residence for the Danish music ensemble, ENSEMBLE EDGE, and has been a visiting fellow at prestigious festivals and residencies.
Alan’s music specifically for film and television has garnered international acclaim, and is actively sought after for international advertising campaigns by Lincoln Automotive, Amazon, David Yurman, and others. His score for the short film, ‘Color Blind’, was awarded for the Roger Taylor Best Score at the Idyllwild International Film Festival.
As a pianist and keyboardist, he regularly appears on recordings and has toured alongside bands such as Intervals, Plini, Scar Symmetry, and others.
These specially commissioned works are so unusual and remarkable that they demand an equal share in the limelight of this debut album, When Dark Sounds Collide by the Pathos Trio. The stunning music expertly interlaces a wide world of time and space, and musical traditions, into extraordinary repertoire for percussion and piano.
In each work, the Pathos Trio have closely collaborated with the composers – Alyssa Weinberg, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Finola Merivale, Evan Chapman and Alan Hankers, who is, of course, also the pianist of the trio.
This has resulted in some truly inspired performances by the members of the trio, who demonstrate – in soli as well as in ensemble – each composer’s heightened skill at conjuring a spectrum of sonic worlds. The collision of metallic, wooden and electronic percussion instruments – performed by Felix Reyas and Marcelina Suchocka – alternate, blend and often enter into outright battle with the plucked, strummed strings stretched taut across the brass frame of the concert grand piano, which is also softly hammered and variously pedalled by Hankers.
The music veers from delicate washes of sound in Jiang’s Prayer Variations and Hankers’ Distance Between Places to somewhat cataclysmic eruptions such as those that inform the mysterious strains of Merivale’s oblivious/oblivion, often punctuated by prescient and even foreboding silences. Meanwhile, the musicians also revel in the passagework – both delicate and fierce – of Chapman’s fiction of light and Weinberg’s Delirious Phenomena.
— Raul de Gama, 10.23.2022
The Pathos Trio outfit brings us 5 newly commissioned works here, where 2 percussionists and piano birth a very atypical version of contemporary classical sounds that makes an indelible impression on this debut album.
Evan Chapman’s “fiction of light” starts the listen off with quivering keys, repetitive percussion and a glow of electronic warmth, as both beauty and playfulness comprise the 10 minutes, and “Prayer Variations” follows with a very minimal, mysterious landscape of strategic keys and electronic manipulation.
The middle spot belongs to Alyssa Weinberg’s “Delirious Phenomena”, where a fuller presence of unconventional textures and tinkering percussion makes quite an impact, while “oblivious/oblivion” is perhaps initially the most bare selection, and emits a stark demeanor, but about halfway through bursts into a frantic display of crashing sounds and frantic instrumentation.
Alan Hankers’ “Distance Between Places” exits the listen, and brings firm, nearly chaotic rhythms, dense rumbling and a very iconoclastic form of chamber nods that few could replicate.
Marcelina Suchocka (percussion), Felix Reyes (percussion) and Alan Hankers (piano) make up Pathos Trio, and their collective strength makes for a diverse affair that points at alt-rock, synth wave and cathedral music on this fascinating effort.
— Tom Haugen, 6.06.2022
The first thing that struck me upon listening to this was how richly it was recorded, with the percussion of Felix Reyes and Marcelina Suchocka fairly leaping out of my speakers and taking up space in my living room like blow-up furniture. The piece, Evan Chapman's Fiction Of Light, begins with Alan Hankers delicate (and delicately enhanced) piano, which only gives the drums have presence. Two-thirds of the way in, things get glitchy and pulsating and we're in the realm of a Radiohead remix. The group's versatility is further proven by Alison Yun-Fei Jiang's Prayer Variations, which includes some very subtle work from Reyes and Suchocka, letting Hankers takes center stage, before they drop the "boom." It's a dynamic and satisfying piece, as are works by Alyssa Weinberg and Finola Merivale. Hankers' own Distance Between Places ends the album on a brooding note. Each work was commissioned by Pathos and has an accompanying video by Four/Ten Media (Chapman is a co-founder), lending even more of a sense of occasion to this excellent debut.
— Jeremy Shatan, 5.28.2022
As Hamlet most famously said to Horatio, "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy." When I first started listening seriously to Modern Classical music, it was more or less a commonplace that what the composer had to say about his outlook on the music was critical in understanding the music you would hear. I was fascinated by such things and for music of that period it still can be a central part of it all. Imagine John Cage works in the absence of what he meant by it. At the time it was central and his role as musical conceptualist is still a huge part of his importance. On the other hand once you know something of that you still need to appreciate the music as music, and at least to me this has an importance that ultimately transcends at least in part the scaffolding he created around it.
As time has gone by the Modernist music we hear from our current time frame assumes a conceptualism that does not always need spelling out at this point, just as, for example, Classical period music did not have to spell out sonata form assumptions for every work that had some relation to it. It was not something that needed direct reference, and at the time composers generally assumed it and the result was what mattered. The same perhaps with counterpoint. Someone might have heard with pleasure, say, 100 of Bach's Cantatas without necessarily knowing a thing about some of the principals he proceeded by when composing. Similarly you can read Moby Dick in the original English quite profitably without necessarily being able to spell out the grammatical underpinnings that Melville had absorbed and took for granted.
All that gets us to today's music, an album entitled When Dark Sounds Collide: New Music for Percussion and Piano (Panorama/New Focus Recordings PAN24). This by the very capable and dynamic Pathos Trio for two percussion and piano. When you turn to the liner notes, there is helpful information--that the five compositions on the program were commissioned by the trio as nicely conceived collaborations of composer and instrumentalists to realize "Dark Sounds" that sought to "combine aesthetics of contemporary classical music with the ensemble's interest in dark, heavy, dense sounds drawn from other genres of music such as alternative rock, cathedral music, minimalist music, electronic synth-wave and more." So there are indeed some conceptual underpinnings to this music, and it is surely good to understand what this is all about, but there is not all that much about the underlying ideas that could be considered "rigorous" or in other words the unfolding of the music as you listen requires attention but is not explicitly musico-grammatical or mathematically sonorous in some deep way. It is music that unfolds with rhythmic, melodic and harmonic logic that is a part of the musical logic of our musical world today. And there too is a pronounced attention to color sonority that is readily understood in the hearing of it.
The five composers each give the trio a series of musical poeticisms that are performed with great sympathy and dedication. And in the end we come to appreciate the compositional inventiveness of Evan Chapman, Alison Jung-Fei Jiang, Alyssa Weinberg, Finola Merivale, Alan Hankers. If one wished to delve deeply into what acoustico-philosophic assumptions are behind the music, one could no doubt say much about that. But the modern day listener does not necessarily need those things to be explicit in some descriptive way, and proscriptively there is much less entailed than might be the case in, say, Webern in his prime. So that is fine, and everything that has come before this music might be assumed but again a full listening may not need to think of such things.
Now I must say that this is music that pleases me for its boldness and its sonic eloquence. You might want to try a listen. If you are like me you will find this a kind of comfortable, home based musical intelligence that feels right and keeps you listening.
— Grego Applegate Edwards, 6.14.2022
The subtitle really tells you everything you need to know about the music of this forward thinking trio’s debut set. It kind of starts you off where “Tubular Bells” left you and goes from there. Progressive without being pots and pans music, this crew is swinging for the fences but not swinging wildly. Experimental leaning ears will find it well worth taking a look see here.
— Chris Spector, 2.23.2022
The notion of percussive piano plus other percussion instruments comes through even more strongly, indeed is foundational, on a New Focus Recordings CD featuring the Pathos Trio playing five avant-garde works by different contemporary composers. These pieces, all Pathos Trio commissions, have no chance of reaching out to any audience hoping for emotional rather than intellectual engagement. And as usual in consciously as-new-as-possible creations, the material is designed to push the capabilities of the performers as well as any audience to new levels. Thus, Evan Chapman’s fiction of light (all-lower-case title, commonplace in avant-garde pieces) includes an ongoing repetitive ostinato with a wide variety of sounds, both pianistic and from percussion instruments, woven above and around it. Prayer Variations by Alison Yun-Fei Jiang has some of the delicacy and repetitiveness of minimalist music, combined with exclamatory material that becomes increasingly insistent later in the work, before the evanescent sounds return at the conclusion. Delirious Phenomena by Alyssa Weinberg starts by using the piano in a percussive manner in John Cage style – plucking the strings by hand, tapping and banging on the case, and so forth. A fairly solid rhythm is developed this way, but soon Weinberg has the performers stretch the piano’s capabilities even further by threading string-instrument strings through the piano’s strings and then essentially strumming the piano – or damping its strings to the point of near-inaudibility. In this piece and to some extent all of those on the disc, the sense is of a visual performance rather than an auditory experience: without being able to see what the performers are doing, some of the impact of the music (however “impact” may be defined) is lost. So it goes as well with Finola Merivale’s oblivious/oblivion (another lower-case-titled piece) and Distance Between Places by Pathos Trio pianist Alan Hankers – the Hankers piece being another in which the piano is played with mallets on the strings and with other extensions of what is usually keyboard technique, although in this case piano chords are used as well, to complement the various struck instruments wielded by the other members of the group. Potential listeners to this sort of CD already know who they are and will self-select themselves as cognoscenti who truly care about the absolute latest in musical creation and performance, while anyone not already firmly committed to displays of the avant-garde in composition and presentation will have no interest at all in the disc. It is, however, a particularly interesting example of the way in which the piano, already a percussion instrument, can become even more of one through techniques that, depending on one’s viewpoint, either violate the instrument’s basic structure and reason for being – or extend them into new realms of sound.
— Mark Estren, 3.24.2022
Contemporary music strives to invent novel soundscapes—it is the stated purpose of this adventurous album from Pathos Trio—which can be exciting but makes the reviewer’s job harder. My search for the right words was immensely helped by the directness of the booklet note: “The commissions featured on this album seek to combine aesthetics of contemporary classical music with the ensemble’s interest in dark, heavy, dense sounds.” All five composers on the program have their own ideas about darkness and density, but here again the notes are helpful, describing the non-classical sources as “alternative rock, cathedral music, Minimalist music, electronic synth-wave, and more.” These terms aren’t likely to be familiar to general listeners, but the path ahead is clear.
Put on the first track, and you are drawn into a world much closer to electronica and the downtown rock scene than anything I’d identify as classical, a high value being placed on ear banging. Things go boom in the night. But I hope this warning raises only a pink flag, because these five new pieces are filled with imagination and sonic excitement. There are collisions of dark sounds, as the album title promises, but there is much more variety than simply a dense wall of noise. Pathos Trio is composed of two percussionists, Marcelina Suchocka and Felix Reyes, and pianist-composer Alan Hankers, who contributes the final work on the program. It isn’t often, however, that you hear conventional percussion and piano—sonic manipulation is the order of the day. Instead of formal organization, each work defines its own shape and is that shape, in the tradition of concrete poetry.
I’ve gone as far as generalities can take us, so let me sketch in each work, beginning with fiction of light by Evan Chapman, a Philadelphia-based composer who is also a visual artist and drummer in a band, which fits with the thumbnail description of his piece in the booklet as “a Minimalist, electronic-style rock trio.” The ear immediately picks up the constant fast rhythmic pulse of the music. Chapman blends the electronic and acoustic sounds quite subtly, because he wants the electronic aspect to sound mysterious, without an obvious location. One way he accomplishes that is to send the electronica directly through the piano and percussion instruments.
The thumbnail for Alison Yun-Fei Jiang’s commission, Prayer Variations, describes its mood as “solemn and gloomy, with church-like melodies.” In actuality, the piece begins with the ping of single notes softly breaking the silence. The music unfolds as the title suggests, as a set of variations on a single prayerful theme, which is spare but melodic enough to feel tonal at first. The inspiration, we are told, was cathedral spaces (which explains “cathedral music” up above), and the overall trajectory of the music is a journey “through an imaginary, sonorous, and vertical spatial entity.” I heard nothing solemn or gloomy, but instead a resonating blend of high and low percussion with the piano largely confined to a lyrical line of single notes.
The thumbnail for Alyssa Weinberg’s Delirious Phenomena isn’t very helpful, since it notes only “heavily percussive prepared piano.” Weinberg has adopted a Surrealist aesthetic here, a “spontaneous method” derived from what Salvador Dalí described as “delirious phenomena.” Weinberg collaborated with Pathos Trio members to devise new ways of preparing the piano—apparently that’s the essence of the spontaneous method being applied. The music rests on a strong rumbling bass and fairly conventional diatonic chords and consonant overtones rising up above it. A good deal of the electronic effects sound like a singing voice.
Irish composer Finola Merivale, who is currently studying for her doctorate in music at Columbia, refers in the title oblivious/oblivion to the widespread oblivious attitude that too many take toward climate change. The urgency of the threat calls for people to wake up, which I take to be the musical connection here, since Merivale’s piece uses harsh anvil-like noise alternating with ephemeral, gentle pings and whispers. The sense of alarm is achieved, as the thumbnail sketch puts it, by “charting a course from calm to frantic,” which could be reworded as “from wispy to seismic, from tinkle to tsunami.”
As the album’s “hard-hitting finale,” Alan Hankers’s Distance Between Placescomes closest to the description I began with, of “dark, heavy, dense sounds.” Hankers provides an abstract description of how he wanted to capture the space between a specific place, such as a busy city, and our memory of that place, but what dominates the ear is solid, clangorous noise in heavy isolated gestures. Musical form is more or less irrelevant compared with the back-and-forth movement from one independent gesture to another, resulting in pileups and collisions whose intention is maximum impact.
The reader will notice that I’ve supplied no value judgments or even my personal response to each work. Two left me cold, one was too noisy to enjoy, and two struck me as very successful at inviting the listener in. I don’t think I should be more specific, because the whole panorama of When Dark Sounds Collide struck me as more important than any single work—the view is like a jumbled street mural of riotous colors and jagged edges. Or to put it more bluntly, no single piece rises much higher or lower than the general level of contemporary soundscapes from with-it young composers. The recorded sound is as impactful as it needs to be; the performances by Pathos Trio convey total commitment.
For anyone curious to taste a sonic slice of life that reflects the contemporary music scene as vividly as possible, this release affords a striking listening experience. This ensemble believes in open sourcing, apparently, because this release can be heard on YouTube and at Pathos Trio’s website. There you also see a video for each work that expands the composer’s creative intentions.
— Huntley Dent, 9.01.2022
When Dark Sounds Collide: New Music for Percussion and Piano consists of five tracks, each of which is a collaboration with a different composer.The composers were encouraged to craft a piece in their voice, resisting the temptation to write what one might think Pathos Trio expected or desired. The ensemble submits that this has culminated in an album which, “combie[s] aesthetics of contemporary classical music with the ensemble’s interests in dark, heavy, dense sounds drawn from other genres of music such as alternative rock, cathedral music, minimalist music, electronic synth-wave, and more. As a result, each work on this album creates raw, edgy, and powerful soundscapes that will engage audiences in both mainstream and classical/new music scenes.”
The five commissions featured on this album are strong, making a convincing assertion that the medium of two percussionists and piano is viable and should continue to be explored and further developed. Not as convincing is the narrow emotional scope through which listeners remain for much of the album. While the works are powerful on their own, the pacing of the release can feel stagnant, at times. That does not suggest, however, that a superficial happiness is desired, but rather, a courtesy offered to listeners to address that the nature of a project that brings together five different visions, as opposed to a tightly unified story woven from a single artistic voice, does have challenges when considering the composite. Still, When Dark Sounds Collide: New Music for Percussion and Piano is recommend listening. I trust that those who do listen will be eagerly awaiting the next release from Pathos Trio.
The album opens with Evan Chapman’s minimalist, electronic style rock work, Fiction of Light. This piece has a meditative quality. The aesthetic feels both current and accessible, while still being able to retain an haute couture personality. While I am not aware of the piece being programmatic, it sounds as if the listener is experiencing the vulnerability and emotion that often accompanies delivering a eulogy. Then, with a surprise punctuation and shift in character, the listener is met with the final section of the piece that ultimately brakes towards its conclusion.
Evan Chapman is a percussionist, composer, and filmmaker based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After receiving his Bachelor of Music in Classical Percussion Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, he has gone on to build a prolific and unique career by seamlessly blending multimedia and contemporary music. As a filmmaker, Chapman – alongside Four/Ten Media business partner Kevin Eikenberg – has become one of the most in-demand collaborators in the contemporary classical world.
Canadian composer Alison Yun-Fei Jiang explores the intersections of cultures and genres by drawing inspirations and influences from an array of sources such as East Asian aesthetics, Chinese opera, natural landscapes, Buddhism, art, film music, popular music, and literature, all while creating musical narratives and experiences in a lyrical, dynamic, and storytelling nature.
Her contribution to this project, Prayer Variations, has been characterized as a solemn and gloomy work that creates a dialogue through churchlike melodies. These melodies are initially expansive and obtuse in their durations, but they soon summon energy as the piece develops with faster successions of metallic percussion sounds communicating with contributions from the piano. Interjections from membrane percussion instruments develop the piece further, confirming and leading the listener to the next structural section that is host to new arpeggiated discoveries in the piano. The work returns to its opening contemplative mood, as if to remember its defining tenet.
Delirious Phenomena should be the first single highlighted from the album. The physical demands and coordination required of this piece add an expanded element of interest. Four/Ten Media effectively captures the choreographic logistics of three musicians producing sound from a single instrument -watch here.
The piece features heavily percussive prepared piano. Grooves are established from both mallets and performer’s hands striking different parts of a piano, while the manipulation of the keys and strings produce harmonic offerings. In a contrasting middle section, the strings of the piano are manipulated differently to produce a drone-like quality. Members of Pathos Trio even offer their voices to enhance this portion of the sonic landscape.
As is experienced throughout Delirious Phenomena, Dr. Weinberg uses color, texture, and gesture to channel big emotions. She is fascinated with perception and loves to play with form, subverting expectations to create surreal scenarios, often in dreamy, multidisciplinary productions. Weinberg currently teaches composition at Montclair State University and Juilliard Pre-college. She is also the Founding Director of the Composers Institute at the Lake George Music Festival.
Finola Merivale is an Irish composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music, currently living in New York City. She is a Dean’s Fellow at Columbia University where she is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition, studying with George Lewis, George Friedrich Haas, and Zosha Di Castri. Merivale reports that themes running across her music include climate change, inequality, and a sense of place – both real and imagined.
The place in which Oblivious/Oblivion exists has been referred to as a place that traverses a dimension that spans from calm to frantic. Of the piece, Merivale writes:
The terror of climate change is preoccupying so many of my thoughts, and is therefore the focus of most of my current music. I am devastated at the loss of life that is occurring daily – humans and other species. I am angry at how little is still being done. Too many people are still oblivious, as our beautiful planet sinks into oblivion.
Listeners may be challenged from the metallic smack that opens the work and intermittently startles the otherwise rather pensive, contrasting counterpoint. Metallic smacks and moans evolve into break drum outbursts that seem to have the intention of polluting an already unsettled melody. This tension leads to an unmistakable destruction nearly halfway through the work. After the initial shock of this destruction is absorbed with the aid of silence, an avalanche of siren sounds fades to another moment of silence. A final sonic push doesn’t seem to fully climax, but instead feels truncated. This uncertainty is accompanied by a period of extended silence that is an artistically deafening way to close the piece. Uncomfortable and powerful. Important.
Perhaps the beneficiary of home field advantage, composer and Pathos Trio member Alan Hankers closes the album with his work, Distance Between Places. Described as a heavy hitting finale, Distance Between Places sounds as though it is organized into distinctive tableaux.
Building from silence over multiple minutes, the listener is treated to an assumed compound-meter jam session, elusive in its beat groupings, but nonetheless driving. This is juxtaposed to a desolate middle section that consists of a few short solo instrumental monologues. These solo voyages are combined to signal the end of this section and the start of the closing portion of the piece.
The closing portion of the composition seems to take influence from the two previous sections through which it has travelled. Equally influenced by the jam session and short monologues, the final section becomes a greater sum of both of these parts, yet unique unto itself. The listener will have to decide whether the composition suggests satisfaction or contempt with respect to the final ‘place’ where one is left.
When Dark Sounds Collide: New Music for Percussion and Piano is the first commercial recording from Pathos Trio. This album was released on the New Focus Recordings label in March 2022. Additionally, Four/Ten Media has produced accompanying music videos for each track on the album.
— Dennis Hawkins, 8.31.2022