John Luther Adams, Strange and Sacred Noise, Performer: Allen Otte, percussion; Brady Harrison, percussion; Stuart Gerber, percussion; James Culley, percussion; Percussion Group Cincinnati; Matt McClung, percussion; Russell Burge, percussion; [Composing Date: 1997/ Recording Date: Nov 1998], (mode records), mode 153
»Strange and Sacred Noise« is a monumental work for percussion quartet in 9 movements. The spatially separated percussionists make this an ideal work for surround-sound, as waves of percussion criss-cross around the room often to a hallucinatory effect. Its dynamics range from the threshold of audibility to the threshold of pain. It embraces unsettling timbres and virtually the entire audible spectrum of sound. Much of this music is loud. It buzzes the eardrums, rattles the rib cage, and immerses the listener in an overwhelming physical presence of sound. Some of that presence arises spontaneously in the air, through the dynamic interplay of complex, high-energy sounds - thundering drums, roaring tam-tams, hammered bells, wailing sirens - the acoustics of the performance space, and the psycho-acoustics of our own hearing.
The instrumentation is at once unique and spare. Each movement is dedicated to the sonic exploration of a quartet of similar instruments - two snare drums and two field drums provide plaintive melodies in »...dust into dust...« as well as »...and dust rising...«, and the thundering velocities crossing in phase-space is scored for multiple tom-toms and bass drums. Other movements are scored for sets of tam-tams, mallets, and unique explorations of quartets of triangles and devastating air-raid sirens.
Expert performances by Percussion Group Cincinnati, who commissioned and premiered the piece.
Liner notes by Steve Schick and the composer.
ONLY ON DVD
• Composer supervised first recording.
• Includes bonus 60-minute video interview with the composer in conversation with Allen Otte, director of Percussion Group Cincinnati.
• 24-bit surround sound in Dolby Digital and DTS.
• English, French, German and Spanish subtitles.
• NOTE: the performance of Strange and Sacred Noise is not accompanied by video
1. ...dust into dust..., [for 2 snare drums & 2 field drums] – 9:15
2. solitary and time-breaking waves, [After James Tenney, for 4 tam-tams] – 10:44
3. velocities crossing in phase-space, [After Conlon Nancarrow and Peter Garland, for 8 tom-toms and 2 bass drums] – 9:40
4. triadic iteration lattices, [To Edgar Varèse and Alvin Lucier, for 4 air-raid sirens] – 8:22
5. clusters on a quadrilateral grid 1, [To Morton Feldman, for 4 marimbas] – 8:39
6. clusters on a quadrilateral grid 2, [for 4 vibraphones] – 4:36
7. clusters on a quadrilateral grid 3, [for 4 sets of crotales and orchestra bells] – 4:31
8. clusters on a quadrilateral grid 4, [for 4 marimbas] – 8:35
9. ...and dust rising..., [for 2 snare drums & 2 field drums] – 8:43