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Adam Rudolph — Focus and Field
(Bandcamp Meta Records, 2020, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-08-23

Focus and Field Cover art Over the years (decades, in fact) we’ve covered Adam Rudolph’s work in a wide variety of settings, going back to appearances with the late Jon Hassell, through work with Bill Laswell and Wadada Leo Smith, not to mention his own groups, which span the range from duos and trios to large ensembles. Focus and Field is the recording of a concert from March 8, 2020 which features a group of eight musicians improvising music based on Rudolph’s structures and conducting; Rudolph himself joins in on hand drums at times. The instrumentation presents a fascinating combination of sounds, from standard European (viola, bassoon, clarinets of several varieties, flutes of different sizes) to Asian (koto, shamisen, shakuhachi and other flutes, saenghwang, piri), plus a wide array of percussion. On the whole, the result is meditative and calm rather than frantic, and very seldom is a regular pulse found. “Tsuzumi” is nearly a half hour in length, with numerous ebbs and flows where different instruments will come and go. It’s often starkly beautiful, with Sumie Kaneko’s vocals in a traditional Japanese mold. The title track is much shorter (7:00) and is more rhythmic, most likely featuring Rudolph joining in. The set finishes off with “Mu Wi,” which builds up from silence into a lovely melody ornamented by many flourishes. This music is highly abstract and can be approached in many different ways. I like to think of it as the soundtrack to beautiful moving images featuring misty landscapes and mysterious shadows.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Adam Rudolph / Moving Pictures / Go: Organic Orchestra

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