Tom Heasley & Toss Panos — Passages
(Full Bleed Music FBM 001, 2007, CD)
by K. Leimer, Published 2008-10-01For those who admire purely timbral musics, Tom Heasley and Toss Panos have put together more than an hour of inventive, often original work based wholly on the tuba and percussion. Original because you will not hear the now familiar distended and looped manipulations of a Jon Hassell, or the extra-musical sonics of a Fred Frith. The remarkable attribute of this collection of five not so easy pieces – which range in duration from less than ten minutes to just longer than 24 – is simply how intensely musical it all remains. The combination of tuba and percussion might seem counter-intuitive: the percussion disturbing what might be imagined as lush strands of clustered drones from the tuba; the tuba in turn being perhaps unable to match the pace of more typical drumming. But most of Panos' time seems to be spent providing markers, giving off short phrases and sounds in expert contrast and shading to the Heasley's tuba. The settings here travel from the often elegiac to a disturbed serenity. Both musicians do an excellent job of welding some long, legato and sustenuto exhalations of the tuba to the clipped and briefer envelopes of percussion. To their credit, the composers / performers never yield to the more obvious temptation of laying down some rhythm patterns and dressing them up with a thousand islands of squawks and drones. Instead, the listener is invited to share an infinitely more thoughtful and nuanced approach to what proves to be a tour de force of concentration and restraint.
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