Their names might not be immediately familiar to many listeners, but a duo album from American composers J.P.A. Falzone and Morgan Evans-Weiler had a certain inevitability about it. Since 2016, the two have been playing together in the quintet Ordinary Affects alongside Luke Martin, Katy Porter and Laura Cetilia, the group having released two 2019 albums on Edition Wandelweiser, one in the company of Eva-Maria Houben, the other with Jürg Frey; in addition to those albums, Evans-Weiler has appeared on two past Another Timbre albums, partnering Christoph Schiller in 2016 and Michael Pisaro in 2017-18, the latter featuring all of Ordinary Affects. Now, Chordioid is a timely release to spotlight Falzone and Evans-Weiler together.
This double album comprises one disc featuring an extended composition by Falzone and the second featuring one by Evans-Weiler; both of them play on both pieces, Falzone on fortepiano, piano and vibraphone, Evans-Weiler on violin. The album artwork considerately includes images of the scores of these pieces, Falzone's "Y Tŷ Unnos III" and Morgan-Evans' "Locational Variations", both dating from 2019. The images highlight differences between the two composers' styles. Evans-Weiler's score gives musicians a set of material which defines a particular sound for the piece, but allows the musicians plenty of freedom and discretion; notably, Evans-Weiler's album with Schiller was completely improvised. In contrast, Falzone says that his scores tend to be more conventional, texts to be read more or less straightforwardly, with room for interpretation.
Despite such differences in the scores, the two pieces here end up sounding remarkably similar in sound and mood, unsurprising as the same two players are playing the same instruments on each. Significantly, Falzone played both piano and vibraphone, the latter — in combination with Evans-Weiler's long violin notes — contributing to the album's diffuse, ethereal atmosphere which is very listenable and appealing. By and large, Falzone plays single notes on piano which are allowed to linger and slowly fade, further enhancing that atmosphere. Across the album, the soundscape is remarkably consistent, evolving slowly and gently without any silences, shocks or surprises. Chordioid is one of those exceptional albums which cry out to be played again as soon as they are over. In time it is very likely to be seen as a milestone, the first duo album from Falzone and Evans-Weiler.
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