Two works for piano, performed by Gabriella Smart, from this pair of Australian composers.
Hope's 'Kaps Freed' stems from ideas formulated by their compatriot, composer Percy Grainger (1882 - 1961), who envisioned a kind of "free music" where melodic lines were unencumbered by rhythms or specific tones, instead being allowed to "hover about any 'note' without ever alighting upon it". Her piece, played on a Kaps piano, a type that Grainger would have used, consists of spare but very tonal notes hanging in a kind of electronic bed that gently, very gently, nudges them this way and that, as if buffeted by a mild breeze. It's a very unique sounding work insofar as the subtle manner in which the notes are encased, almost protectively. Its 20 minutes elapse quickly, dreamlike, exceedingly lovely and heartfelt, a wonderful piece.
The elaborately titled, 'Two New Proposals for an Overland Telegraph Line from Port Darwin to Port Augusta, from the Perspective of Alice Springs', by Veltheim, is a different beast entirely. Based on the image of the first piano to arrive in Alice Springs in 1872, transported by camel, it uses as its basic material a tweet expressed in Morse Code. For what it's worth, he chose the most popularly retweeted message of 2014, originating at the fingertips of Ellen DeGeneres, Veltheim commenting on the current "obsessive retweeting of meaningless messages". And that view certainly comes through, via the relentless hammering of the code, swathed in a nest of electronic effects that, though definitely in the (relative) background, make themselves felt in the form of loopy synth sounds, birdlike tones, static and more. It's both oppressive and impressive, off-putting to a degree (as is, in this listener's opinion, tweet culture) but at the same time, over the course of its almost hour-long duration, immersive and even, oddly addictive, the dense web of sound always enticing one to extract more and more detail.
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