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Parks, Kevin / Vanessa Rossetto: Severe Liberties (ErstAEU)

Balancing detached and decontextualized sound with melodic moments, the New York duo of Kevin Parks and Vanessa Rossetto construct 3 large works of sound, journeys that take the listener in and out of the process with concrete, studio, and inexplicable sound.

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product information:

Label: ErstAEU
Catalog ID: ErstAEU 004
Squidco Product Code: 21213

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded in New York City on July 25th and 26th, 2014.


Kevin Parks

Vanessa Rossetto

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Artist Biographies:

"Vanessa Rossetto is an American composer. She uses primarily chamber instrumentation, field recordings, electronics and a wide array of objects. In 2008, she launched her own CD-R label, Music Appreciation. Through this imprint she has released four solo albums: Misafridal (2008), Imperial Brick (2008), Whoreson in the Wilderness (2008)and the FILE Festival-honored Dogs in English Porcelain (2009)."

-Vanessa Website (

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track listing:

1. Seeing As Little As Possible 17:39

2. They Sit 13:57

3. The Details Of The Anecdote 21:46
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descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Liberty" is one of those great terms that contains a trace of its inverse. It is usually taken to mean "freedom from" something, or immunity, as in the diplomatic kind everyone recognizes thanks to televised political dramas and George W. Bush. Consequent to that understanding, the less controlled or restrained a thing is, the more liberty it possesses. So the curtailment of action doesn't usually figure into conventional senses of freedom, but think of all the liberties secured by the abridgment of desire, prejudice, and fear. License in one space often demands restriction, or constriction, or even conversion, in another. Something like that is at work on Severe Liberties, the benighted electroacoustic product of Kevin Parks and Vanessa Rossetto's first collaboration. "Severe Liberties" are the kind of thing people take when they need to bend the truth, or when they simply don't understand something. Here they are the kind of thing that transforms silverware and surface noise into music.

"Seeing as Little as Possible" is a provocative opening statement for a song-and album-that contains so much sound. After an introductory spasm of indiscernible frictions and a very conspicuous length of silence, Parks and Rossetto pour on a cornucopia of domestic noises and electric signals. A contact mic makes love to bubble wrap, someone remarks that a UPS truck is in front of their home, and a lonely guitarist strums a few very Mazzacane-esque chords over the sibilance of mangled cellophane wrapping and the clatter of an undefined home improvement project.

That all breezes by in the song's first nine minutes. The second half introduces birdsong, feedback, and jump cuts that transport the music from outside a New York City apartment to inside a clogged New York City drainpipe, complete with an auger and unwashed dishes in the background. Plenty happens during the album's opening sally. What that something is exactly is impossible to know. Even if some of the sounds are recognizable, most are far too abstract to nail down, and their arrangement all but guarantees sensory confusion. If there is nothing to see here, no big picture or secure height from which to look down on the music's patterns, it is because Kevin and Vanessa have strived to make it so.

Almost every noise on Severe Liberties has been detached from its source in a confounding way. Fragments of conversations, rhythms, melodies, and who knows what else have been strung together so as to be indecipherable or without narrative, and "Severe Liberties" are exactly the kind of thing someone would have to take in order to make sense of them. Fragmentation and falderal reign over these 50-odd minutes, which is why, in part, so much of the record feels nocturnal. Kevin and Vanessa's compositions pull a shroud over meaning and eliminate most of the references that would make reconstructing it possible. Whatever liberties they took in sourcing their material, and whatever method they employed for arranging it, the consequence is this constantly shifting web of sensations, ungrounded and unfettered by an appreciable order other than its own disorder.

That is why "They Sit's" pixelated imitations and on-a-dime turns are even harder to characterize than the events on "Seeing as Little as Possible," and it's why the album's brief guitar passages fail to pull the songs together: they are as out of place as everything else. "The Details of the Anecdote" merely teases the idea of details in its title, it doesn't actually illuminate much. Anecdotes are excerpts anyway, short narratives that tell short stories. If they aren't minor details in a bigger picture, they are private details unearthed and treated separately from everything around them, as if they had a life of their own distinct from the rest of the world.

Parks and Rossetto run with that idea at the conclusion of their project. In its final minutes, a series of tones rise and fall in uneasy agreement, suggesting all the shifting perspectives and noises the album has chewed and spit out up to this point. The drone resolves into a dense rumble, a free falling sound that calls skydiving to mind, or the sound of riding at 100 miles per hour on the back of motorcycle without a helmet. It then slowly collapses into a wall of distortion and fizzles out, disappearing like a soap bubble. No resolution obtains, except for silence. Perhaps that's because there is nothing there to resolve."-Lucas Schleicher, Brainwashed

Get additional information at Brainwashed
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Duo Recordings
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Organized Sound and Sample Based Music
New in Experimental & Electronic Music

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