The long exhale conjures up notions of yoga, meditation and mindfulness – that through the exhale we’ll achieve some kind of calm tranquil peacefulness. Whilst this duo of piano/ prepared piano and synthesizer/ clarinet is sparse, I’d hesitate to call it peaceful, though they do refer to their pieces as meditations.
Pateras is a European based Australian composer and improviser who has worked with everyone from Mike Patton to Chris Abrahams (The Necks) and regularly transcends genres in his work. Burr meanwhile is a leading light in modern classical music, and has collaborated with the likes of Alvin Lucier, Jim O’Rourke and John Zorn. Both have demonstrated a restless desire to innovate, to push themselves and their music to develop new forms and move beyond expectations. Which not only makes this musical collaboration so interesting, but also the liner notes which, as with all of Pateras’ Immediata releases it’s not so much an interview but a discussion, where the two discuss shared interests, concerns and interpretations. The conversation tangents joyfully from Dennis Wilson to Alvin Lucier, La Monte Young, the musical identity of New York, curiosity in music, motivations in music, and the death knell for creative communities.
Weighed down by a series of single repetitive reverberant notes from Pateras, providing an anchor point – or perhaps percussion in the sparsest possible sense, Burr skirts microtonally around the edges, turning the clarinet into a gentle high pitched suggestive one note drone, or plays lower bottom end notes that feel like they’re accenting Pateras’ gestures. Burr’s use of the Arp 2600 is similarly sparse, thin wisps of modulations that seem to provide a link between the two musicians. Pateras’ preparations often sound like muted bells and Burr uses this structure to dance around. There’s a ridiculous amount of space, of near silence, and it appears the duo were adamant that they wanted to retain this.
So what results is gentle and quite atmospheric, equally inspired by contemporary classical new music and the various improvised ensembles the duo have participated in. It feels like ground rules have been laid out and maintained, as the entire album feels carefully considered and focussed. They never build in density and it never feels highly emotive or overaught. The music is never provided an opportunity to take control. They control the music. Whilst the duo discuss Cage, Feldman and Lucier in their liner note interview, it’s an open admission of their yearning for purpose, for strategy and the rigours of executing a pre ordained notion – pretty much a blueprint for what you will hear.