DIGITAL RELEASE: MICL EA 002
Cover photo by Raivydas Rukštelė
It was as recently as in 2016 that I came up with the title Ambients for this set of five pieces as I wanted to bring them together under a single name for a concert that same year. I wrote the compositions during different periods of my life, Mobile 6 and Mobile 9 being the earliest of them all, dating back to 1996 and 1997. I have prepared the scores of these pieces too. Writing this music, I imagined nine piccolo clarinets playing in sporadic groups in separate chapels inside a big church, together with violins and violas – distant and tender. Back then, however, I faced a challenge of coordinating the groups within a huge space and arranging a concert performance. In addition to that, a concert performance implies the entrance of musicians, the beginning and end of performance, applause and other attributes which, according to my understanding, would alienate the public from listening and from the essence of music.
That was the time of my first encounters with electronic music, partly through the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer, the instrument that revealed sinusoid tones to me which I eventually used to record these scores. This is how the compositions written for acoustic instruments have turned into electronic music. I would have fun with sinusoid tones for hours on end. Later my synthesizer vanished and I spent some time looking for it, but in vain – or perhaps my search simply was not passionate enough. I discovered the fitting sinusoid tones, so responsive to the way you press the keys, by casually turning the knobs on my synthesizer and I thought back then I would never find a better instrument and better tones. Their sound was as if devoid of human interference and required no performers; they were purer and clearer than usually, although bogus and lifeless. I was always fond of that kind of combinations, as controversial as they are. Mobile 9 was a long piece for a project Observatory held in Vilnius University when, just before closing the old observatory down for restoration, it was turned into an eccentric artists’playground for several weeks. In the composition of just under one hour, the sound material proceeded with minuscule differences of tempos in different layers while I was walking very slowly the distance of several metres along a rope stretched out in the corridor of the observatory. The current compilation features only the beginning of the piece. In Mobile 9 I engage in a play with extremely slow tonal processes, including an ascent toward sharp tonality-clusters and a lengthy descent. While writing these pieces, I was not afraid of unintended results, therefore I would merge several different musical processes only to discover surprising dissonances or consonances. These were supposed to be distant sounds reminiscent of a barely perceptible light within a nuanced darkness. I remember I asked a specialist in recording technology whether it was possible to use microphones that would dampen the instruments. I loved the idea of barely audible music which lingers parallel to ordinary noises and therefore calls for attentive listening rather than bursts out into a space. I could offer other metaphors too, but I believe the key experience here is a travel alongside the sounds, the volume knob turned almost to zero; I would recommend high quality speakers rather than earphones. I know that in technical terms these compositions are far from progressive, they might even be deemed primitive. I should stress again, however, I did not conceive them as electronic music initially. On the other hand, judging the music merely in terms of technological advance would be a rather one-sided affair.
In White Flutes, I sampled the sound of a Japanese flute, shakuhachi. Here is what I wrote about the piece for the Jauna Muzika Festival in Vilnius in 2010: “I wanted a simple and organic music that would sound non-electronic. It should resemble a singing to oneself when the body feels every nuance, or a detailed study of several gestures. I also wanted a sound that’s vernal and somewhat “wooden”. The sound that isn’t manifestly alive, but rather like a suspended but never expiring life that dwells for many years below snow and water.”
I wrote Woods-Winds--Waters---Winters----Windows for a flute septet of the Norwegian Music Academy in 2004. Later I filtered the recording relentlessly to the point it could not be recognised or even, at times, heard. In the programme note of one of my previous CDs, I wrote about the piece: “…sleep and windows opening to the surrounding whiteness, invasions, fallings out, soberings up, empty spaces. These are the important elements in shaping the grammar and poetics of the piece. But limiting it all to ceaseless w......w....w...w...........wwwhistlings would be even better.”
I Can’t Get Through to You consists of sampled cosy and intimate sounds, including strings, glassware, and tiny drums I happened to come across. I placed a microphone in immediate contact with them and assembled their taps into almost regular period-like cycles.
It is about extending one’s audible capability further than the conscience can reach, to the things that surround and take you in yet remain distant and incognizable. To get through is to fall over and resonate with them. Most probably, all the music on this set is about that, or at least it is an attempt to move to that direction. I say so but, at the same time, am afraid of being overly pathetic; I fear to underscore the aesthetic experience and to assert that it reveals something more compared to lucid reasoning. I am of very self-contradictory nature, and this inconsistence is probably reflected in the dynamic profile of Ambients: to be in an intensive mode, almost not being at the same time, questioning, burning down everything gently.
Mobile 6 15′07″
White Flutes 11′39″
I Can't Get Through to You 08′54″
I Can't Get Through to You
Mobile 9 (excerpt) 11′27″