21061-2, CD, $14.00
|| Nate Wooley
Nate Wooley, trumpet and voice
I was really only familiar with Nate's jazz/improv work, so when he asked if
he could submit something, I must admit I was curious. Well, hot damn, this
a great piece of experimental/drone music. You have got to get your hands (and
ears) on this one.
The Almond started as a short study for trumpet for the British website
Compost and Height. Wooley, a rising young composer known mostly for his radical
recontextualization of the trumpet in improvisation and jazz music, was, at
the time, feeling constricted by the sound based language he had been using
up to that point in both his live solo playing and his earlier solo records.
His goal was to make a true solo trumpet record, using only the trumpet as it
was intended to be played with no extended techniques. This challenge spawned
a 20-minute piece that, at the surface level, was a quick, arcing narrative
made up glacially shifting textures of pure pitched sound.
The process behind the piece was much more complex, however, as each pitch
heard in the piece was made up of anywhere from three to ten different recordings
of the trumpet recorded in different mutes, tunings, with different microphones,
and in different rooms. The result was each note of the piece, now expanded
to 70 minutes in its final version, takes on a synthesized aspect, sometimes
sounding like a voice, others like an organ, but always maintaining some timbral
tie to the trumpet. With the exception of one very low pedal tone, all the pitches
are played on a regular embouchure, again a far cry from Wooley's usual work.
The piece grew to 70 minutes as a formal construction for the presentation
of materials became clear to the composer. What is on the recording, The
Almond, is a much different piece of work from the early, raw 20-minute
study that spawned it. Now the materials appear and return in the same relaxed
pace, but they seem to grow out of each other, spatialized in a way that suggests
a more organic movement than the tedious tape preparation outlined above would
suggest. Groups of pitches appear and recede, creating phantom overtones of
ghostly singing as they interact with other harmonies already present in the
work. In the original sketch, posted on Compost and Height, Wooley suggests
that The Almond should be listened to at a high volume or better yet
in headphones. The extended version of the work, here presented for the first
time, is better experienced loud on speakers with time to listen in a relaxed
way to the complete 70 minutes, allowing the listener to follow the entrance
and exit of each new harmony.