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Review: Experimental Music Yearbook Concert at the wulf

On Friday, November 6, 2015 the wulf presented a concert by members of the Experimental Music Yearbook. A full house turned out to hear three pieces by Katherine Young, Brian Harnetty and Jennifer Walshe, all connected by a common theatrical thread.

Graveled crumbled strewn by Katherine Young was first up and performed by a large group that included strings, winds, guitar, electronics and a video. This began with a single pitch from the soprano sax, matched in the violin whose tone quickly broke down into a rough, scratchy sound, like a cable under tension. Breathy sounds came from the flute while the lower strings produced a calm, welcoming chord and it was as if we were standing outside on some open, windswept hill. Meanwhile, the video showed construction equipment in the distance with the sounds of heavy, mechanical clanking. The instruments picked up this theme and began to issue a series of industrial sounds – the snap of a cello string and some humming in the horns. This portrayal – aided by the images in the video – proved very convincing, as if we were in the middle of a construction site, surrounded by powerful mechanical activity. With a steady siren blast from the horns, as might be heard for a shift change, the sounds ceased. Graveled crumbled strewn is a convincing realization of forceful earth moving processes experienced in close proximity.

Liam Mooney next performed “Could I Tell You a Little Story About That?” by Brian Harnetty, on the vibraphone. This began in retro fashion with a vintage cassette tape recorder playing soundtracks from old TV shows. The dialogue was definitely dated – perhaps mid-20th century – with a distinctly rural character. Soft, solitary tones came from the vibraphone and this added a warm, nostalgic feel to words heard from the tape track. One could almost imagine a black and white TV set with the family gathered around. The archival recordings created a powerful empathy and the soothing sounds from the vibraphone perfectly complimented the scene. “Could I Tell You a Little Story About That?” is imaginatively conceived and was beautifully played.

An ensemble of strings, saxophones, flute and guitar performed the final piece on the program, Zusammen I by Jennifer Walshe. Complete silence began this piece, followed by breathy sounds from the winds and a light set of notes from the guitar. The strings joined in, with cello laying down a solid foundation that gave this section a prelude-like feel. Another minute of silence with a similar sequence followed. A bowed bowl produced a lovely high pitch that seemed to float above the listeners, adding a sense of mystery. Ms Walshe lives in Ireland and this music brought to mind a dark moor far out in the country. Another spell of silence and then one of the performers stood up and began walking among the players with a purposeful stride. Low tones in the cello deepened this riddle as the other strings joined in quietly. More silence and then two of the performers retired to a corner of the space, embraced, and began a slow dance. The horns gave out a solid tutti passage full of warm and welcoming chords as if we were in a familiar place – perhaps a local pub. Another player began to stagger about, perhaps drunk, as the dancers continued their slow-motion rocking. More sweet sounds from the ensemble completed the vignette as the piece concluded in silence. Zusammen I is an affectionate, intimate look at the customs of lesser-known society.

Performers for The Experimental Music Yearbook were Casey Anderson, Jennifer Bewerse, Casey Butler, Scott Cazan, Morgan Gerstmar, Josh Gerowitz, John P. Hastings, Todd Lerew, Liam Mooney, Stephanie Smith, and Christine Tavolacci.

the wulf's Santa Fe street location

the wulf’s Santa Fe street location

Added Note: It was announced at this concert that the building on Sante Fe Street that has been the home of the wulf for the last seven years is being sold. The plan is to move the wulf to a new site, but the details are still being worked out. For the latest information please visit their website: