It’s not often we hear such advanced, confident work on a composer’s sophomore release. With In the Company of Architects, collaborators Paul Baran and Gordon Kennedy have delivered an exceptional illustration of the adage: two creative minds are better than one.
The pair compose music as The Cray Twins. For this release, they have assembled a 10-piece collective featuring:
- Paul Baran: electronics, chapel organ, samples, buchla
- Gordon Kennedy: electronics, organ, mellotron, samples, keys
- Ryoko Akama: modular synthesizer
- Werner Dafeldecker: guitar
- Bruno Duplant: chimes
- Sergio Merce: microtonal saxophone
- Antoine Beuger: flute
- Kai Fagaschinski: bass clarinet
- Jessica Evelyn: spoken word
- Lavinia Blackwall: soprano
It would be an overstatement to describe them as an ensemble. Baran and Kennedy took the now standard concept of Internet-enabled virtual collaboration and went one step further. The players were given only limited exposure to one another’s performances of the work.
With no line of sight into the full scope of the work, the artists were presented with the creative challenge of knowing only a little bit about the composers’ vision and their partners’ various interpretations.
The result is surprisingly cohesive. Partly because Baran and Kennedy have structured the three pieces broadly, with plenty of room for unique contributions.
The risk with this approach is that the material feels too much like unfocused collage. The players avoid that trap entirely.
Instead, we’ve been given three mesmerizing acousmatic pieces that combine turntablism, distortion, vocals and a range of stellar improvisational performances. Wonderful.