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

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Muffins - Chronometers – A strange release at first glance. One CD, 70 plus minutes, 21 tracks, one track is 23 minutes long. Hmmm. This is a compilation of outtakes and general weirdness from 1975. The Muffins are often...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues