Monday, November 23, 2009

New Music from Mario Diaz de Leon

Composer Mario Diaz de Leon ignores the boundaries between modern concert-classical, electronics, free improvisation, metal and noise. His recent Enter Houses Of (Tzadik) shows this clearly, albeit with the emphasis on the first two categories. It is a music that has a narrative flow. What he ends up with is all his own.

For this recording a nine piece chamber-oriented group, the International Contemporary Ensemble, matches sonorities with de Leon's electronic manipulations of timbre. The pieces juxtapose related musical events in ways that keep the ear refreshed.

Winds, strings, and percussion-piano, respectively, tend to occupy the forground at various points, with the electronics often entering the blend to create sprawling amalgams. De Leon seems to conceive of the music as moving event-blocks. The focus is on the achievement of distinctive sonorities that have an improvisational looseness but a keenly contrasting brilliance of sound design. They mark the time passing like various cloud formations drifting across the horizon on a briskly windy day.

This is not music that overwhelms. It invites you into its world and then does not hurry to express everything it has to say. That takes time. In the end the visit is worth the trouble.

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