Friday, January 21, 2011

i hear a symphony

Vanessa Rossetto’s Mineral Orange is the fruition of seeds cooked in four solo works released in 2008-2009 on her own label, Music Appreciation. Then, and now, Rossetto layers her pieces with elements of concrete, collage and captured moments from the city and the hearth. Like Graham Lambkin, who released Mineral Orange on his Kye imprint, Rossetto can envelop you with the grandeur of small moments- stirring violin drones appear and recede amid room tones, street burble, zippered luggage, pressured speech and the leitmotiv of Rossetto’s sound world, critters. Purrs, bird squawk, and barks from the backyard flow within many of her pieces, at times urgently, even claustrophobically; it has occurred to me, following Rossetto’s developing compositions and assemblages the past several years, that she might well be connecting via her menagerie with something wild and raw that is frequently lost in urban settings. The wild and raw is self-evident in her visual art, manifest in a fascination with anatomy, creatureliness,and the textures of the corporeal. Rossetto’s music and paintings are expressive, painstakingly layered and arranged, with an appearance of being improvised, even shaggily so. This is the tension I like in her work; underlying the intuitive, snaking course her sounds follow, like improvisations and spontaneous leaps, is revealed Rossetto’s wide armed embrace and integration of the music she hears everywhere. Austin, her kitchen, the streets and the spheres-Rossetto hears a symphony.

a tender melody

Frequently her melodies are heard in non-human voices, from passing pedestrian sounds, and, over the last several years, her increasingly drawn down, distilled string playing. There is tenderness and melancholy in her music, embedded in the flow of things. Again, like Lambkin, sounds of bedlam can suddenly give way to such tender passages, and vice-versa. I hear, in each successive Rossetto release, a greater ballast of the elements she works with- the narrative and the abstract, the overheard and the carefully crafted, the possibility of hearing the melody and the beat in what zen calls the ten thousand things coming forth.

I’m lost in a world

Rossetto and I are simpatico on one descriptor of her sound world-the quotidian. In my March 2010 appreciation of Rossetto, I had it this way; Rossetto’s sound art is brilliantly spun from some of the most quotidian, low-fi sound sources available to a composer. In the February 2011 issue of The Wire, in which the august journal of the avant-garde catches up with Ms. Rossetto to discuss her approach to composition, she says quotidian sounds are amazing and can often really benefit from only a slight recontextualization. As if to cement the adjective as a Rossetto signifier, Nick Cain says near the end of the piece Rossetto links her interest in quotidian sound to the concept of psychogeography.
Let me suggest another way of describing what Rossetto is up to, articulated nicely by Helmut Lachenmann; …to break the sounds, looking into their anatomy…is an incredible experience. You can still see that you knew that sound before, but now it has changed. This is the only reason for me to make music-to hear, in a new way, what you knew before. This is the Rossetto knack, the recontextualization of the quotidian. Lest it sound as if the overall effect of her sonic travels is assuaging or tonic, well, yes and no. Sometimes Rossetto’s layers and striations of the whole wide world overwhelm, engulf and alarm; she sounds lost in the world of Mineral Orange, no matter how intimate she is with it. Somewhat akin to the Krebs/Unami release, motubachii, this album suggests a sort of travelogue in which she is at once diarist and completely alien.

much joy within

There are also strands and threads of simple exultation in sound; abrupt plunges and transitions, as if Rossetto is rounding a corner and a whole new neighborhood presents itself, clamoring for attention. A deep joy, co-equal with episodes of melancholia and darker moods, shoots through Mineral Orange, even an odd gospel tint. Look at Rossetto’s vibrant paintings for this quality as well, it radiates at times.

a thousand violins fill the air

While Rossetto is clearly placing her viola and violin among many other sonic elements these days, they are employed to evocative effect. I have come to anticipate the emergence and fading of her strings with pleasure; she can nail that thick thrum of massed strings simply tuning up together that to this day I enjoy at every orchestral event I attend. Her string clusters, as I mentioned in my piece last year, own a naïve, heartfelt quality that ventilate some pretty dark goings-on.
Mineral Orange
, to my ears, is a beautiful concoction, latent in those cooked seeds from several years back, now realized with greater focus and framing. Rossetto has entrained her ear to whatever is around and within her, making music of the ten thousand things. On the prior works I hear sketches and the fleshing out of her influences and intentions. On Mineral Orange, I hear a symphony.

Title and section headings from Dozier and Holland's I Hear A Symphony.

You've given me a true love
And every day I thank you love
For a feeling that's so new
So inviting, so exciting

Whenever you're near I hear a symphony
A tender melody
Pulling me closer, closer to your arms

Then suddenly, ooh your lips are touching mine
A feeling so divine til I leave the past behind
I'm lost in a world made for you and me

Whenever you're near I hear a symphony
Played sweet and tenderly
Every time your lips meet mine now baby

Baby, baby you bring much joy within
Don't let this feeling end
Let it go on and on and on now baby

Baby, baby those tears that fill my eyes
I cry not for myself
But for those who never felt the joy we felt

Whenever you're near I hear a symphony
Each time you speak to me
I hear a tender rhapsody of love now

Baby, baby as you stand holding me
Whispering how much you care
A thousand violins fill the air now

Baby, baby don't let this moment end
Keep standing close to me
Ooh, so close to me, baby, baby

Baby, baby I hear a symphony
A tender melody

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