Review of Fridman Variations [12k2041]

Touching Extremes (BLOG)

The Fridman Gallery in New York is a place where Stephen Vitiello and Taylor Deupree perform with regularity. During one of these concerts they were struck by the consequences of their actions on the audience, narrated as “a hushed and dreamy state” by the press release. Thus they decided to consign that particular evening to the posterity, utilizing the same sources for different purposes: on the first side we find the unadulterated set, whereas the second comprises two shorter tracks born from that material.

The acoustic core of what we hear descends from a somewhat blurry, at times carillonesque combination of guitar and synthesis (both modular and tape-derived). However, slightly complex textures are frequently offered to the ears. The pleasant tones and noises which lull us at the beginning turn into a sequence of misshapen chimeras after a while. The simplicity of the melodic geometries is replaced by a mounting mist of inscrutable echoes and loops, not necessarily consonant but constantly in agreement with a mind free from expectations or, worse yet, perturbations. In the actual variations, the rhythmic pulse appears a little stronger; in case you wonder, any danger of transcending into “tap-your-foot” cheapness is avoided thanks to Vitiello and Deupree’s profundity and expertise.

Too rich in (sympathetic) irregularities and (mild) fuzziness to be branded as mere ambient, Fridman Variations may be observed as an exercise for the semi-unconscious brain. In a condition of relative lucidity the music permits to identify selected details and memorize small parts, if just for a minute. Still, it does not warrant access to our coldest rationality. The improvisational aspects of the initial performance represent a humus of innocent freedom; the subsequent studio tampering adds layers of post-event connotations that nevertheless do not alter the original principle.

Using the “repeat” button is politely suggested. This is a slowly blossoming petite flower.

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