I stumbled into Michael Foster's universe quite by accident, as I remember, and was floored from moment one. His duets with the likes of Claire Rousay, Ben Bennett and Ted Byrnes are textbook examples of quick-witted interplay, and the larger ensembles that he's "involved" with stretch the definition of music as we know it. Then again, I suppose that could be said about his whole approach, which is admirably displayed on this rather uncanny disc. Using extensive preparations, along with samples and oscillators, Foster seemingly steps back to the year zero and starts over.
The program is divided into two halves labelled "7 Libidinal Fragments" and "Celluloid Nightmares", each of which is then further subdivided. "For Naomi Tani" explores crinkle and rubbed bore, giving way to the spit and breathe with mucho damp filigree that is "Skins Of Satin". "Function Smothered In Surmise" is a relatively "straight" exercise in fractured melody for the tenor, all intervallic leaps and quick runs within dizzying circuits. Watch out for those uppity vocalizations. "Spirit As Organ" reveals a vibrating tunnel populated by tiny birds and then rinsed with rippling harmonics.
The soprano is whipped out for "Following The Brush" and Foster turns bent breath into a fine, sinuous re-telling of everything. I hear very faint shades of Lol Coxhill, especially toward the end. There are also keen examples of scouring the metal tube with steel wool while several fat hogs look on transfixed, and some nifty multiple overtone displays.
The second part is another cookie altogether. Oscillators hum and buzz, to underscore the gurgling and inhaled brassy breath. A sharp intake shuts it all off, and then we're treated to a longish extemporization with what sounds like domestic chores and one or two of those hogs back for more. Bits of this sound like they're happening in reverse as someone knocks on the bread board and stepdad saws away in the shed. There are sections here that sound like the instrument could come apart at any second, and the thought occurs that Foster submerges it from time to time to prevent it from spontaneously combusting. Some beautiful distortion heralds repeated note-sighing, as "things" wind down. Well almost. It's marvelous.
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