Two brand new remote recording works by Alameda-based composer Brian Baumbusch are featured on this album release by Other Minds. Commissioned by the University of California Santa Cruz Wind Ensemble, Isotropes was written in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and consists of a sequence of varied musical fragments chosen and recorded by each participating musician from their respective homes during quarantine. Together, these fragmented recordings combine to create an ambitious 25-minute work for adaptable orchestra. Also featured on the album is Tides, a piece commissioned by the Creative Work Fund in collaboration with video artist Ian Winters and recorded remotely in lockdown following the cancellation of its March 2020 live premiere.
Tides is a chamber work for quintet of harp, piano, vibraphone, violin, and clarinet that reflects on the 21st century crisis of rising global sea levels, and the Bay Area regions that are projected to be affected by this over the coming century. Ian Winters captured video footage while walking a pilgrimage around the Bay and uses this footage together with 3D body-scans of the musicians performing their parts in the virtual production of the piece. Due to the synchronicity between the music and the video, as well as the complexity of the multiple simultaneously varying tempo streams, referred to by Baumbusch as “polytempo,” click tracks were incorporated at the conception of the work to ensure performance accuracy. When the pandemic hit and concerts were cancelled, Baumbusch decided to shift the concept of the piece to a remote recording production. This release marks the first time that this work can be heard since its creation.
Based on an interest in the remote recording techniques that Baumbusch used in Tides, UC Santa Cruz Wind Ensemble Director Nat Berman commissioned Baumbusch to create an entirely new remote-recording piece for his wind ensemble that would explore Baumbusch’s technique of composing with polytempo. After a library of musical fragments of varying pitch ranges, tempos and rhythmic notations was created and made available online, each musician independently selected fragments of their own choosing and submitted their recordings en route to compiling the full piece. Each musician recorded the fragments in their own homes using whatever equipment they had readily available, such as phones or laptops, and a downloadable click track provided by Baumbusch. Once all of the recordings had been assembled, Baumbusch edited the recordings together to produce the final mix. The work received its premiere online in June 2020.
Composer Brian Baumbusch comments: “Isotropes has evolved into a unique composition for the time that we currently live in rather than as a means of getting around the limitations of technology to deliver an approximation of live performance. Not only are composers questioning how we can create art in a meaningful way while concert halls remain shut but also how these works can endure and remain a part of our evolving musical tapestry. Composers throughout history have created great works of art during times of great struggle and I believe that we must all approach our efforts in the same way during these uncertain times, adopting new performance practices rather than adapting or compromising existing ones.”
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1. Isotropes, Part 1: Escalation 05:18
2. Isotropes, Part 2: Coronation 06:30
3. Isotropes, Part 3: Murmuration 07:37
4. Isotropes, Part 4: Reconciliation 05:23
5. Tides: Movement 1 05:16
6. Tides: Movement 2 05:01
7. Tides: Movement 3 07:10
8. Tides: Movement 4 06:03
9. Tides: Movement 5 05:30