Motum by Claudio F Baroni

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Claudio F Baroni
Motum (Unsounds; CD/DL)

This is the latest album from Argentinian composer Claudio F Baroni, a half dozen works for electronic quartet, organ and string quartet, broken into three long tracks. Motum begins with in CirCles II (Mov. I through IV), running for 36 minutes in its four-part cycle. It’s a quiet space, with slow build, performed by the sizable Dutch Ensemble Modelo62. In a drone that keeps shifting via strings and reserved harmonies, the cast of players create an atmosphere of bewildering openness. As it moves into the second part we hear the unedited stirring motion and coughing of the musicians, as if you were sitting at the live concert. The elongated strings and subtle piano are met with small percussive snaps and pauses. It’s a secretive piece, hiding something, calculating the spacial dimensions, and peaking through. The players deliver a delicate performance with creaking and bell tones that are tactile, ringing in your ears.

After a pause there is slight static in the air, the players then emerge, together, in a sweet n’ low melody that bleeds out to the edges as if it were black strap molasses being poured by a baker in mid August, the sweet sound subtly seeps away. In the dawn of the shaping of this work there are glistening vibes that illuminate the space with a glowing echo effect. And all of a sudden, a surge in volume, its a slow-build but the hum climbs and the pitch grows, until they pause for the final act of this cycle. In these final eight minutes the ringing of the bell centers the listener, the harmony becomes somewhat an intriguing thriller in the making, dotted with warm, nerve-ending drones and tones.

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The duo of Ezequiel Menalled and Claudio F Baroni are up next with SoLo VIII-Air (dedicated to Phill Niblock) and this is where things start to gain intensity. The piece, in honor of the 84 year old avant electronic composer, is a sweet nod to a true champion of the field. This is a dark journey of bleary-eyed electronics with a stretched organ and a lot of atmosphere that somehow remains full, yet stripped down. It’s a tough balance these two are striking, but at points it sounds like a phantom church service gone awry. It purrs with a sweaty, grumbling drone, and industrial flair.

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On Perpetuo Motum (dedicated to Quartetto Prometeo) the strings soar high and dive like crazy fireworks. The layers of multi-tones fly in varying angles, expand and contract like queasy cartoon characters. There’s something wry built into this perpetual motion they create together. At times it sounds like twisted Western, and at others there is some sort of fallout during wartime. It’s most definitely a very tall tale. The way in which multiple stringed instruments come together, or by some sort of patched repeat program, makes this quite dizzying, not unlike one’s internal body rhythm after going through a double helix rollercoaster. You are getting very sleepy with Baroni’s hypnotic piece of dueling strings, very sleepy.

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