Boomkat Product Review:
‘Branches’  is an absorbing extension of John Cage’s ‘Child Of Tree’ , a chance composition for amplified cactus, performed by the 7-piece daswirdas ensemble inside the echoic chambers of a huge Swiss dam
Yep you read that right - it’s an hour long work featuring the daswirdas ensemble using contact microphones to pick up and amplify strokes of the cactus body and its needles, resulting a mixture of perhaps expected, and also quite unexpected sounds, from scratchy to fluid and reverberating clangs.
The piece starts with a performance of ‘Child Of Tree’, followed by a random number of variations on that piece each lasting 8 minutes and separated by a period of silence. With Cage present as listener, the performance and the space generate a colourful variety of echo with reverberation times that vary from 1 to 6 seconds for different frequency ranges.
If we’ve got it right, the ‘Branches’ of the work relates to those naturally chaotic offshoots or limbs of sound that result from the treated space, as the players’ moves, each determined by the I-ching, result hard-to-predict prangs and decays as the sounds, once released into the space, take on brittle and fluid new lives of their own, yet are still connected to the main body.