… Charlotte Hug is finding new and fertile ground for string instruments in electroacoustic settings… — Signal to Noise, USA
… the impact of the laptop in improvised music is considerable, its implication far-reaching, posing all sorts of new challenges for acoustic instrumentalists — The Wire, UK
- Label: For 4 Ears Records
- F4E 1446 / 2003
- Total duration: 43:49
- Jewel case
- 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
- 90 g
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In the press
Swiss viola player Charlotte Hug won significant accolades with her solo recording Neuland where use of extended techniques transformed her instrument through evolving sonic variations. On this new duet release, Hug extends the sonic pallet of her instrument even further. Here she is joined by Chantale Laplante, who adds real-time electronic processing to Hug’s viola and electronics for bewitching results. Laplante’s background in electroacoustic composition (including studies with Francis Dhomont and a stint at IRCAM) draws Hug’s improvisations in to new territories. The five duet improvisations capture the haunting atmospherics of stretched and echoed textures that hang like gossamer skeins. Much of the time, the use of viola as acoustic sound source is morphed beyond recognition as percussive pops and scrapes plucked and bowed strings are subsumed into constantly shifting electronic layers. Unlike Evan Parker’s collaboration with electronic musicians, there is never a sense of Hug’s viola acting as source material for processing. Instead, the two create dynamic improvisations organized around the mutable placement of sound in a spatial plane, bringing to mind Kaffe Matthews’transformations of architectural spaces. This is music that seems to billow and waft rather than truly progress. The five pieces are clearly edited down from longer performances, and at times the music treads dangerously close to cinematic soundscape, with whooshing electronic washes and creaking, subterranean atmospherics. But there is enough here to draw the listener in, particularly on a piece like the closing Brilliant Arch, with Hug’s sawing string harmonics groaning against the shimmering ground of Laplante’s electronics. Like musicians such as Phil Durrant, Mark Wastell, Nikos Veliotis, and Rhodri Davies, Charlotte Hug is finding new and fertile ground for string instruments in electroacoustic settings. This release is another indication that she is well worth keeping an eye on.
Three tracks recorded in Glasgow, two in Bamberg, Germany by Swiss viola player Charlotte Hug and Canadian laptop musician Chantale Laplante. Sounds from the laptop are diffused in ways that effectively reconfigure both the performance and the space of listening. Hug’s additional use of electronics heightens the sense of a reverberant multidirectional music. She uses radically unorthodox bowing techniques on her viola, yet in this decentred live electroacoustic context each frictional rasp and shrill glide of the bow are assertions of the viola’s identity in defiance of the featureless swell and boom projected from the computer and the nameless sounds Laplante inserts around the sonic field.
It’s tempting to conceptualise the viola as an originary place, a sound source with a history and a well-defined culture and to cast the laptop as a space of reception and transmission, sounds passing through but never belonging or conferring an identity. That distinction is undoubtedly problematic. Certainly the impact of the laptop in improvised music is considerable, its implication far-reaching, posing all sorts of new challenges for acoustic instrumentalists. Brilliant Days registers that impact, raises those implications, confronts those challenges, as Hug’s viola asserts itself or moves electronically out of its body.