• Jam Session alerts

Bonnie Wright's Fresh Sound concert series continued Tuesday night at Space 4 Art with a solo violin/electronics performance from NYC artist Todd Reynolds to an almost-packed house.

Reynolds began "Trans America," by sputtering vocals into a microphone, which activated a lap-top Mac running specialized interactive software and pre-recorded accompaniment. He strummed his violin like a ukulele before whipping out the bow and activating thick, processed textures. He's got a terrific sound on the instrument and flawless intonation, and he built a fascinating swirl of elliptical ideas.

On "Crossroads," he triggered a vocal loop recorded by a friend that featured snippets from the Robert Johnson tune hovering above some tasty arco glissandi that fell somewhere in the divide between Papa John Creach and Jean-Luc Ponty.

"The Solution," began with an electronic drone done as Reynolds crafted dense cycles of pizzicato loops where much of the interest occurred in the intersection and overlap of bowed and plucked layers.

Reynolds' music lies in the ambiguous region between the scripted repetition dynamic of minimalist composer Steve Reich and an open-improv aesthetic where more is left to chance. As an improviser, he's pretty diatonic, and I found the performance most compelling when he challenged the boundaries of tonality with slowly creeping chromatic double-stops and other devices.

My favorite moment came on "And The Sky Was Still There," where he layered his instrument over the recorded sounds of electric piano and the haunting narration of a female soldier describing her experiences as a closeted warrior in the "don't ask--don't tell" era. As the music shifted in slow, kaleidoscopic turns Reynolds added piercing vibrato and distorted squiggles to the increasingly anguished words.

There were a lot of fascinating moments that were somewhat diluted, however, by the lack of self-editing and rather lugubrious pacing of the two long sets, prompting a question that often comes to mind when I'm attending a minimalist-type concert: if less-is-more, then why so much?

Photo by Jeff Kaiser

  • Jam Session alerts

Comments

Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!

Close