Exposé Online banner

Eleanor Hovda — Coastal Traces
(OO Discs oo29, 1997, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1999-01-01

Coastal Traces Cover artHovda is an important, yet little known composer who has been active on the contemporary music scene for over twenty years, mostly through live performances, scores for dance companies (of which Coastal Traces is but one), and as a composer whose work has been performed by numerous string and wind ensembles, including California Ear Unit, Kronos Quartet, Boston Musica Viva and the St. Louis Symphony. Surprisingly, though, is that this is the first complete CD of her own material, featuring pieces composed from 1991 through 1998, for the Nancy Meehan dance company. Sometimes the way music is created is at least as interesting as the music itself. The pieces herein were composed for a three-piece ensemble featuring Libby Van Cleve on double-reeds (oboe, english horn, shenai), Jack Vees on electric bass, guitar (electric and twelve string) and waterphone, and the composer playing the innards of a grand piano using friction mallets, plucking and using 'strings' made of violin bowhairs, with a microphone inside the piano to capture the resonances. So what does it sound like? The music here doesn't lend itself well to the standard twelve-tone western-classical descriptives, being more of an ambient/industrial/experimental type nature. Sounds from any source tend to be protracted and change slowly over time, and often exist barely at the threshold of hearing. At some points a sound (usually one of the reeds) may jump out of the mix and assert itself, giving some definition to the otherwise amorphous nature of the bowed piano strings and bass. At other times the whole ensemble comes up to a louder growl. The fact that the entire performance here is acoustic allows it to offer some subtle details in the area of harmonics and resonance that electronically produced music cannot match. But because so much of this is played at a level that is barely audible, much of its detail is lost in a casual listen. Those ambient explorers looking for some acoustic relief from the otherwise-nearly-all-electronic ambient realm might do well to check this one out.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 16, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Eleanor Hovda

Latest news

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Bubu - Anabelas – This is an excellent album, featuring mature composition, great group playing, and a very nice sense of dynamics and texture. There is an intensity to this music which is controlled beautifully over...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues