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Hope, Cat: Decibel (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

A diverse set of works from Australian composer Cat Hope, employing acoustic instrumentation--strings, keys, flutes, reeds & percussion--along with electronics and field recordings, in chamber configurations from duos to quintets, performed by the Western Australia Decibel new music ensemble for which Hope is both director and a performer.

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Cat Hope's-flutes, double bass, composition, artistic director

Lindsay Vickery-reeds, composition, programming

Aaron Wyatt-viola, iOS programming

Tristen Parr-cello, production

Stuart James-piano, composition, programming, sound design

Louise Devenish-percussion

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

UPC: 752156102922

Label: ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd
Catalog ID: ezz-thetics 1029
Squidco Product Code: 31106

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Soundfield Studio, in PerthWestern Australia, in March and April, 2021, and October, 2016, by Stuart James. Track 3 recorded at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"This is an album of compositions by Australian composer Cat Hope, performed by the Decibel new music ensemble. The ensemble has provided a collaborative environment where Hope's composition has evolved, and the group is made up of close colleagues with skills as musicians, composers, producers, sound engineers and software programmers. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this group in Hope's development as a composer. For example, it was within this group that the Decibel ScorePlayer software was developed, software that Hope uses to present her animated graphic notations. Recording engineer and Decibel member Stuart James led the first recordings of Hope's work, and as a performer in the ensemble, Hope was able to become intimately familiar with the repertoire of her favourite composers, including works by composers in the ensemble itself. The ensemble premiered some of her earliest notated words. Sharing a common interest in commissioning and performing Australian new music, the group has toured Australia, Europe, Japan and Malaysia, committing to residency periods where they would develop new works, performance approaches, software and concert programs. Currently, Decibel's six performance members are spread between the Australian cities of Perth and Melbourne.

All the pieces on this album use the Decibel ScorePlayer, a tablet computer application that animates and coordinates the reading of networked graphic scores. In Chunk, it sends coordinates the from one page of the score to a Disklavier and the other to the live pianist on a second piano. In Wanderlust, different audio recordings can be inserted to the score. In Shadow of Mill, the sub tone is played from the score itself, and Majority of One includes a notated part for room feedback. Some tracks on this album were recorded in real time over the Internet between Perth and Melbourne, cities some 3400 kilometres from each other, facilitated by software developed by Decibel member Aaron Wyatt.

"Majority of One" is for four sustaining instruments and room feedback. Each instrumentalist chooses a prescribed range, indicated by highest, lowest and mid-point in the score. This must be facilitated by glissandi only - so in the case of Decibel performers, on a single string for the string instruments, and single notes in the winds. The instruments are augmented by 'room feedback' that engages the harmonic qualities of each venue the piece is played in. The title is taken from a discussion between David Charlton, Jolyon Laycock and Morton Feldman in 1966, the year of Hope's birth:

C: Do you think that indeterminate music, your music, is for yourself or for everybody?

MF: I think it is for everybody; I think that all art has its special audience. You have the certain types of faces that you see at a Renaissance concert, at a Wagner concert. It has its audience as well as any other music has its audience. All audiences are departmentalised; so I think it is a kind of fantasy to think of a "serial" audience. I met someone who could only listen to Mendelssohn: he was an audience of one. L: As long as you have an audience, no matter how large or small it is, your music has a reason.

MF: Well, one is a majority of one!

"Juanita Nielsen" features amplified strings that apply distortion effects at certain points of the score. After the score is performed once through, the ScorePlayer jumps to different places in the score, changing direction radnomly, before playing backwards, from end to start, making the work different in each performance. Juanita Nieslen (1937-75) was a young Sydney woman who ran a community newspaper entitled "Now". In the paper, she highlighted the buying and demolishing of elegant historic terrace houses in her area, and the related harassment of tenants to make way for new housing developments. Her mysterious disappearance has never been solved. The work takes impetus from this story, the chaos, random sequences, unforeseeable consequences. The piece is dedicated to composer and violinist Jon Rose who inspired the string performance techniques. The work was premiered by Decibel at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in September 2012.

"Chunk" features synchronised graphic scores for each piano - the Disklavier part reads it's score image as MIDI messages, and the live pianist reads their part at the same pace. This work is an experiment with the concept of 'black MIDI', where the aim was to have the Disklavier play all notes at once at full volume, and set this alongside what a human pianist is capable of. Being interested in noise music, I was fascinated with the possibility of the these massive 'chunks' of sound. The aim was of course unrealisable - the hammer action of the piano needs to recover before it can strike again - but the variety of messages sent to the Disklavier try to achieve as close as possible to a 'noise piano'. The initial score technology was developed by Jarryd Bird and Stuart James. The work was dedicated to Mark Gasser, who performed its premiere in 2011.

"Wanderlust" is a work for any one or two instruments and a field recording of walking. The piece is assembled by the performer: they undertake a recording of themself walking to the venue of performance. This is put into the Decibel ScorePlayer with Hope's score image - the length of the walk thus dictates the duration of the score. This work is named after a book of the same name by American author Rebecca Solnit, published in 2000. The book is a requiem to walking, where the erasure of the journey is seen as the result of the "anxiety to produce" that characterizes contemporary life. This piece takes as long as the walk does, in an attempt to realign our experience of concert time with that of walking. The version of Wanderlust on this album is for percussion and electronics, and the field recording is of walking the dog around the block during the lengthy Melbourne COVID 19 pandemic lockdown. The work was commissioned as a solo by recorder player Sylvia Hinz in 2017, and a duo version was developed in 2019 in collaboration with the ensemble Clocked Out.

"Shadow of Mill" is a three-movement reflection on the devastating 'White Australia' policy enacted by the Australia government in 1901. The title is taken from Phil Griffith's 2002 paper "Towards White Australia: The Shadow of Mill and the Spectre of Slavery in the 1802 Debates on Chinese Immigration" and uses a copy of this policy, printed on paper of today, on the cello: sensuously rubbed and grated against the body and strings of the instrument. The cello is a exemple of European Culture imported into Australia, and not played as originally intended. The piece demands the instrument be radically detuned, struck and rubbed with the paper, the cello sound underpinned by subtle 'undertones. The work aims to highlight the disconnect between European musical instruments from the unique Australian environment. The work proceeds slowly in the bottom registers of the cello, engaging double bow techniques and small theatrical gestures. The work is dedicated to and written for Decibel cellist Tristen Parr, who premiered it in 2018.

Cat Hope is an Australian based composer, performer and academic. She is a classically trained flautist, pop vocalist and improvising noise bassist. Her 2017 Hat[Art]Hut monograph CD 'Ephemeral Rivers' won the German Record Critics prize that year, when Gramophone magazine called her "one of Australia's most exciting and individual creative voices." She is a Civitella Ranieri and Churchill Fellow whose work has been discussed in books such as Hidden Alliances (Schimana, 2019), Sonic Writing (Magnusson, 2019), Loading the Silence (Kouvaris, 2013), Women of Note (Appleby, 2012), Sounding Postmodernism (Bennett, 2011) and a range of other periodicals. Her music has been played by the BBC Scottish Orchestra, ELISION and range of ensembles worldwide. She is supported by her role as Professor of Music at Monash University in Melbourne.

Decibel are a new music ensemble that focus on the integration of acoustic and electronic instruments in chamber music performance, founded by Hope in Western Australia in 2009. They are world leading interpreters of animated graphic notations and pioneer digital score formats for composition and performance. This includes the ongoing development of the Decibel ScorePlayer, an iPad application for the coordinated reading of graphic notation, now used by music ensembles and in music institutions internationally. Whilst rooted in the western art music tradition, Decibel aim to remove stylistic boundaries in their commissioning and performance approaches.

The ensemble has collaborated with composers such as Eliane Radigue, Werner Dafeldecker, Agostino Di Scipio, Alvin Curran, David Toop, Marina Rosenfeld, Lionel Marchetti and Johannes S. Sistermanns, and worked with iconic Australian composers Jon Rose, Andree Greenwell, Alan Lamb, Ross Bolleter, Warren Burt, Ros Bandt, Erik Griswold and Anthony Pateras. They have commissioned over 80 new works since their inception in 2009, over 50 of these from Western Australian composers."

Artist Biographies

"Cat Hope, born 11 March 1966, is an Australian musician and academic, based in Melbourne and is currently the Head of Music at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music - Monash University. She is best known as a noise, installation and performance artist. She was a founder of the legendary Perth noise duo Lux Mammoth; was a singer, songwriter and bassist in dark indie band Gata Negra, and she also performs solo noise music using bass guitar. Her current projects include a series of works that focus on low frequency called 'the low grooms' and a bass improv quartet Abe Sada.

Hope lectured in classical music and music technology at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. In 2000 she was awarded the Pandora's Box Film Festival Award for best film score. In that year her music was included in the Extreme Music From Women compilation, issued by the Susan Lawly label. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the UWA School of Music (now the UWA Conservatorium of Music)."

-Wikipedia (

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Lindsay Vickery: "Composer/performer Vickery's music includes works for acoustic and electronic instruments in interactive-electronic, improvised or fully notated settings, ranging from solo pieces to opera and has been commissioned by numerous groups for concert, dance and theatre.

He is a founder member of ensembles GreyWing (2016-), Decibel (2009-), HEDKIKR (2001-) and Magnetic Pig (1993-2003). He writes and presents on a range of topics, most recently on the emergence of the "screenscore", nonlinear music and the realisation of Cage's music, in publications/conferences.

He is coordinator of Composition and Music Technology at the WA Academy of Performing Arts at Edith Cowan University."

-Decibel (

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Aaron Wyatt: "Originally from Perth where he had an extensive career as a freelance musician, Aaron is now an assistant lecturer at The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University. He is a violist, violinist, conductor and programmer.

Playing across a range of genres with many different ensembles, he was a long time, regular casual with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and recently toured with them to China and Abu Dhabi. He has performed internationally with a number of other groups and productions, including the award winning fringe show City of Shadows by Rachael Dease.

In Decibel, he is the developer behind the Decibel ScorePlayer app, the group's animated graphic notation software for the iPad. Aaron was recently nominated for a Helpmann Award for his musical direction of Cat Hope's new noise opera Speechless, presented as part of the 2019 Perth International Arts Festival."

-Decibel (

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"Based in Perth, Western Australia, Tristen Parr is a classically trained and versatile acoustic and electric cellist specialising in new music performance and performer integrated sound design for theatre, dance and installation.

He has toured extensively throughout Australia, America, Canada, Asia and Europe, & has recorded for Germany's SWR & the ABC performing across more than 50 recorded releases. Tristen is a founding member of Decibel, silent film band Viola Dana and art makers Praxis Collective as well as being part of many ongoing projects.

As a freelance sound designer he has been commissioned by the likes of Louisville Ballet, Yirra Yaakin, LINK Dance Company, The Australian Ballet, Steamworks Arts, Queensland Ballet, Barking Gecko, CANWA, Australian Maritime Museum, Geelong and Latrobe Regional Art Galleries along with many independent commissions.

Tristen has won numerous W.A. Music Industry and Fringe awards and has been nominated for a Helpmann Award for Best Music Direction."

-Decibel (

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"Stuart James is a Western Australian-based composer, performer, sound designer, audio engineer, and producer. His compositional work explores both acoustic and electronic instruments, and he has been commissioned to write compositions by the ABC, Decibel Ensemble, Tetrafide Ensemble, the WASO New Music Ensemble, percussionist Louise Devenish, and visual artist Erin Coates. Stuart's work has also been performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Michael Kieran Harvey, and his work has been released on Tall Poppies. Stuart won the state finals of the ASME young composers' competition, won the Dorothy Ransom composition prize, and has also been nominated for Australian Music Centre Awards for his percussion pieces Temperaments and Kinabuhi | Kamatayon. Stuart has been a founding member of the Decibel ensemble, and has performed as part of this ensemble throughout Europe and Asia. Stuart also manages and operates a commercial recording studio, and has recorded and mixed national and international artists including ShockOne, Kele Okereke, JMSN, Ta-ku, Loston, Jaime Page, and others. Stuart also completed his doctorate for research in spatial audio, spectral synthesis, and wave terrain synthesis, and has continued to publish regularly on music technology."

-WAAPA, Edith Cowan University (

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"Louise Devenish is a contemporary percussionist whose creative practice blends performance, collaboration and artistic research. A passionate advocate of new music and Australian music, Louise has commissioned over 50 works for percussion, and her performances are acknowledged for their 'dazzling vitality', 'stunning virtuosity', 'interpretive flair and technical brilliance'. As a soloist and with ensembles including acclaimed electroacoustic sextet Decibel (WA), studio-lab The Sound Collectors Lab, and chamber ensemble Intercurrent she develops new works exploring graphic notation, post-instrumental practice and collaborative creativity, performing around Australasia, Europe, North America and the UK. Louise has collaborated on award-winning recordings with these ensembles and others including Speak Percussion and Synergy Percussion, released on Hat[now]art, Listen/Hear, Immediata, Innova and room40, as well as solo album music for percussion and electronics (Tall Poppies). Louise was Chair of Percussion at UWA Conservatorium of Music, where she founded and directed Piñata Percussion (2013-2019). She is currently Senior Research Fellow and ARC DECRA Fellow at Monash University, where she is also Percussion Coordinator. Louise is a Churchill Fellow, and recently published her first book Global Percussion Innovations: The Australian Perspective."

-Louise Devenish Website (

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Track Listing:

1. Majority Of One 9:46

2. Jaunita Neilson 10:59

3. Chunk 10:17

4. Wanderlust 5:12

5. Shadow Of Mill 13:23

Related Categories of Interest:

Hat Art
Compositional Forms
Australian Improvisers, Composers and Experimenters
Large Ensembles
Quintet Recordings
Duo Recordings
New in Compositional Music
Hat Hut Masters Sale

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