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ole-henrik moe - Ciaccona / 3 Persephone Perceptions
Anyone familiar with the microtonal string explorations of Horatiu Radulescu will have some idea of what to expect from this two-part collection of works for solo violin by Norwegian composer Ole-Henrik Moe. Surely ranking as one of the Rune Grammofon label's more uncompromisingly experimental releases, 'Ciaccona/3 Persephone Perceptions' uses the violin as a sound machine rather than a conventional instrument, with special focus placed on certain harmonic sweetspots on the strings which are responsive to infinitesimal changes in bow pressure and placement. With this in mind, the final sequence of 3 Persephone Perceptions is a disorientating cocktail of overtones and freakish interval jumps, beginning with odd, modulating chord shapes that dip away into uneven, droning passages, where the bow scrapes its way across the strings causing varying degrees of friction and wheezing abrasion. Similarly, on Ciaccona, focus is shifted from pitch over to raw timbral texture. Indeed, the fifth piece has more to do with timber than timbre, resembling the sound of a particularly diligent lumberjack shredding violently through bark with a hacksaw. The range of harmonics produced by this most severe of bow assaults actually sounds incredibly beautiful, in an awkward sort of way. In fact, it's rather strange to think that a violin recording made in a Norwegian church could produce such resolutely difficult music - at times you'd swear there was some sort of electronic interference at work. The final piece in the Ciaconna cycle flurries through high frequency tonal workouts with a relentless, disorientating pace, and by the time its all over you might well find yourself having to re-evaluate your perception of the violin's sonic capabilities. Considering this music is all made on one of the oldest, most broadly used instruments in music history, there's something especially remarkable about the level of unfamiliarity achieved across these two discs.