Saturday, 28 August 2010

JOHN KING – 10 Mysteries


“What I’m seeking to discover”, writes composer and violist John King, “is the unity of, rather than the distinction between, determinate, indeterminate and improvised music”. He refers to this as “trilogic unity”, employing any necessary means to reach a satisfactory interaction of the separate components. 10 Mysteries – performed by King as a member of his Crucible String Quartet (the other names being violinists Cornelius Dufallo and Mark Feldman, and cellist Alex Waterman) – offers an interesting portrayal of the essential concept. These are sounds that cooperate with the mind, exclusive of unwarranted laissez-faire despite the partial randomness of the events.

The three works comprised by the program were in fact written by following directives dictated by “chance and improvisation”, the scores strongly informed by the results of an I Ching-based symbol generator furnishing the musicians with a series of indications to follow, the interpretation rendered according to each one’s sensibility and intuition. The nine movements of the title track are, as a result, most significant. Their place changes constantly amidst momentous amassments of nervously deployed clusters and whirlwinds, and more propitious tendencies to consonance that, in any case, are too short for actual respite, unsystematic proliferations of phrases overwhelming the listener after brief pauses of relative stillness.

Both the remaining pieces – “Rivers Of Fire” and “Winds Of Blood” – apply the same logic to a system consisting of acoustic tones and live electronics. The former juxtaposes seagull-like glissando, anxious climaxes and deceptive falls of tension in a fairly intelligible mixture of involving realism and inextricable meta-phraseology. The latter is presented in two versions - the outcome again deriving by underlying principles linked to possibility – that magnify the effectiveness of King’s methods, the gathering of apparently conflicting suggestions under the umbrella of harmonically advanced congeniality.