Classical, Electronic Music, Experimental Music, Improvisation, New Music
Self-release. LP recording
Reviewed by Daniel Blinkhorn, December 1st, 2015
Certainly if the first bite is with the eye then Stasis Ecstatic by Decibel promises to be an attractive and sleek release. Part of the appeal is the retro charm afforded through the physical presentation of the work in LP 33-inch vinyl. I suspect one of the benefits of this format was to highlight the visual nature of various compositional processes and techniques, which lend themselves heavily to both graphic notation and improvisation. As such the presentation of the release certainly captures the spirit of manifold compositional procedures undertaken very effectively. In fact, the cross section of graphic scores, photography, gouache brushstrokes, diagrams and sonograms, coupled with extensive documentation underscore the importance of the processes undertaken throughout the album (something highlighted by the inclusion of support documentation articulating the project by Maggi Phillips).
The LP contains six works, four by various members of the group, as well as some guest appearances by Alan Lamb and Julian Day. Given the diversity of compositional aesthetics and individual styles, the works seem to coalesce into an oddly congruent and unified listening experience. This is something that is surely testament to the organic and cohesive dialogue made possible through the core ensemble’s conversant musicianship.
Overall, the feel of Stasis Ecstatic is one drawing from varying degrees of process music coupled with improvisation. So much so, to my mind there’s a kind of 1960’s ‘contextual, process driven’ narrative to the release, where the listener is invited to navigate the highly stylised improvisational procedures employed by the group, whilst importantly retaining the idiosyncratic sensibilities so specific to each individual composer.