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.