There are times in which all one looks for in a succession of juxtaposed sounds is delicacy. And there are certain composers that, under a veil of fragility, reveal instead an imagination so luminous that it becomes difficult to connect the apparent flimsiness of their work to the sentiments that it generates in the listener. Christopher Tignor – a computer scientist who happens to possess a gift for composing intriguing music – is a surprising artist, in that he raises artistic questions through means that have already been exploited by others, at least in part. Yet his creations cause emotional responses that we’re used to notice only when confronted with a deeper complexity.
Core Memory Unwound features compositions (or, as indicated by the press release, “tone poems”) for piano and violin enhanced by a self-designed software called “memory machines”. Apart from a couple of direct interventions by Tignor, the pieces are performed by Margaret Kampmeier and Colin Jacobsen with the same profound commitment applied by the composer in devising these concepts. This isn’t an innovative-at-every-cost statement, and we are not crying miracle, either. But there’s some magic in these strangely reverberating chords, stretched violin lines and poignant harmonic auras underlying the melodic developments. In a track such as the superb “Cathedral”, Tignor succeeds in leaving us suspended in expectation despite the use of compositional tools that, hypothetically, should not produce excessive awe, or even surprise for that matter. The man’s talent is revealed by the perceptively clever utilization of those materials, the outcome a record full of grace that accompanies our activities like an indispensable component of early-morning life. It sounds natural, and it’s just gorgeous. Sometimes, that’s everything you’re going to need to keep trusting the suggestion of an improvement.