Boomkat Product Review:
Another brilliant full-length from Duane Pitre, who continues experiments in just intonation - RIYL Kali Malone, Pauline Oliveros, or Sarah Davachi.
While he was writing a piece for experimental brass ensemble Zinc & Copper, Pitre chanced upon a technique that interested him. He wasn't able to use it for the piece he was working on, but he set aside the idea and implemented it while writing 2021's excellent "Omniscient Voices" LP. While working on that album he recorded multiple takes of the process, and 'Varolii Patterns' has been assembled from a small set of those takes. Using an eight-voice synthesizer tuned in just intonation (a xenharmonic tuning method that uses whole number ratios for its intervals, in contrast to the Western standard equal temperament), Pitre harnesses not only tone but rhythm, overlaying pulsing oscillators to create dizzying structures.
Pitre's drones are expertly sculpted, as becomes quickly evident on opening track 'Varolii Pattern 10-1'. His whispered electronic waves throb with the gaiety of early 20th century experiments and sound just as rigorous. The unusual tuning is pronounced, but it's the rhythmic ideas that keep us coming back: it's not completely obvious what he's doing at first, but as each track develops sounds enter the frame that appear to pulse on top of each other, setting up unusual polyrhythms. This is most stark on 'Varolii Pattern 8-11', that sounds like a melted approximation of Raymond Scott's soothing sounds. There's a warmth to it and a familiarity too, but Pitre subverts our expectations, bending the harmonics and upsetting the pulses into interlocking blips and moans.