Electronic, Ambient, Eclectic & Unique | Three Neuma Records Releases Summer 2022

Electronic, Ambient, Eclectic & Unique:
Three Neuma Records Releases Summer 2022

Neuma Records releases a constant stream of innovative new music, with a leaning towards electronic and otherwise genre-defying works. Here's a look at three releases from earlier this summer.

MC Maguire: Transmutation of Things

MC Maguire: Transmutation of Things

Toronto based composer MC Maguire uses pop music songs as a springboard into what could be called a "post-modern hybrid". As the liner notes point out, there is a long tradition of using popular music as a starting point for classical compositions. Here, Maguire goes full digital orchestra - with 300 layered tracks - on Ariana Grande's Positions in his piece for orchestra and CPU, Dispositions.

The second piece on the release is called Apophis, named after the Egyptian god of chaos, and referencing an asteroid due to hit Earth in 2029. Snippets of Katy Perry's Tsunami are lurking among the complex orchestral arrangement.

The effects are sweeping, and filled with grandeur, but in a mode as if built by manic robots. Along with musical complexity, Maguire builds more meaning into the pieces. Dispositions, as he states in the liner notes, references the struggle between genetic predisposition and free will. 

Verdict: A brainy musical matrix.


Lawson & Merrill: Signals

David Margolin Lawson and David Merrill were both engineering different sessions at the CityVox Studios in New York City when they discovered a mutual love of mid-century electronic music. Both were into composers like Edgard Varèse, Ilhan Mimaroğlu, and Steve Reich, among others. It began a musical friendship. 

They call their recent collaboration "sonic sculpture pantings" - there are five on the release. It's ambient music using both vintage analog and modern instrumentation, with an attention to craft as both sound designers and engineers that makes for compelling music. 

The tracks are atmospheric, opening slowly and gradually building layers of texture, sound, and detail. In Morning Meditation, the music pulses like waves of peaceful vibration. A Day At The Beach inhales and exhales slowly with the waves. In Rivière, the music rushes like water, kinetic and hypnotic.

Verdict: Wonderfully evocative. 


Composers Inside Electronics: David Tudor's Rainforest IV 

In 1973, in a barn in Chocorua, New Hampshire, composer David Tudor launched Rainforest with an ensemble of young musicians, composers, and electronics enthusiasts. Tudor was just coming off a five-year tour with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, one where he'd create music for them to perform to by amplifying small objects on a tabletop. Together, that first group became Composers Inside Electronics. 

Specifically, Rainforest is performed by taking a collection of tiny everyday objects, along with those the group creates, and making them vibrate. The objects are suspended in space, with a vibration created by a small electro-magnetic transducer. The results are unpredictable, what they call a "performed installation" and the effect is quite mesmerizing. 

At times, it's like a thousand birds of different species twittering to each others, then the sound veers into something like insects, or animals of unknown origins, with a jittery underlying rhythm. 

Verdict: Intriguingly hypnotic.