Seven Deserts

Seven Deserts
New World Records 80821-2

The prolific composer Scott Fields continues his momentum with Seven Deserts, another ambitious work for large ensemble. Because the genesis of this project, and of the composer himself, are both well addressed by Elliott Sharp’s liner notes, I will add here only my impressions as a listener who hears music visually.

The large ensemble of acoustic instruments (woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings) and understated electric guitars, suggests sights you might encounter on an evening stroll through nature: startled chipmunks, crickets in heat, scampering lizards. A dusky field sparkling with 10,000 fireflies. Pointillist colors.

Or while navigating a dystopian city: dark heavy clouds, industrial waste, a stumbling addict, Rimbaud’s Drunken Boat.  A nod to Gershwin’s An American  in Paris. A Charles Ivesian collision of marching bands.

Very human noises: hiccups, burps, farts, kisses, sucks, moans, sneezes, stuttering, chatter, made possible as the instruments are required (or freed?) to play beyond their normal ranges of tone, pitch and volume. The bass clarinet screams in angst way up in flute range, The double bass roars, grates, scratches, and belches.

Over the course of a ten minute piece, spare densities slowly accrete, become denser, or louder, or both, then loop around.

Long time followers of Scott Fields’s music (I belong to the tribe) will find this recording comfortingly familiar, that is to say, threateningly challenging.


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