pulsoptional - Durham, NC's band of composers - is a composers' collective and performing ensemble, with an eclectic instrumentation (reeds, electric and acoustic strings, keyboards, percussion and electronics) and an innovative but no-nonsense approach to music making. Effortlessly strad-dling conventional categories - and equally at home in concert halls, rock clubs, and art galleries - their repertoire ranges from 20th-century experimental "classics" to newly-commissioned works by emerging composers, arrangements of TV and movie themes, spontaneous soundtracks and collective improvisation.
Their long-awaited debut album features gripping, assured performances of new works by members of the collective, and captures all the genre-defying excitement of their live shows. It's New Music, for sure, with plenty of "compositional rigor," and will certainly appeal to fans of other contemporary-composition "bands" (Bang on a Can All-Stars, Electric Kompany, Clogs) and of the pool of avant-garde and experi-mental art-music influences the group espouses (John Cage, Steve Reich, Gyorgy Ligeti, etc.). But the album also casually (and sincerely) incorporates rock/pop, jazz, electronica, and ambient sounds and styles into the mix, and should appeal to a broad range of listeners with eclectic and progressive tastes, from post-rock and free improv to punk and prog...
Each composer brings a distinct voice to the project, yet the sum of their contributions comes across as a forcefully unified, fully satisfying album. From the Morse-code derived rhythms and soaring lines of "What Hath God Wrought" to the punk/metal drive of What Chaos Received Bounds; from Kid Sparkle's wailing, jazz-inspired melodies and harmonic pro-gressions to 'stain's subtle processes and delicate ensemble interplay; from the gradual deconstruction of form and style in I Heart Rosa Luxemburg... through its transcendent, propulsive coda; from the hyper-complex polyrhthyms of How Terrible Orange's outer sections to the static beauty at its core... The album abounds with the energy and joy of its creation, with the commitment of its young composer/performers.
released April 6, 2007
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