Jacqueline Martelle, flute; Richard Cohen, clarinets; James Martin, trombone; Terry Kippenberger, contrabass; Rich O¹Donnell, percussion; Tom Hamilton, electronic harmony generator
Composer Tom Hamilton¹s stunning new CD, Local Customs, explores some obscure notions about music theory and performance practice, leading to sound combinations that are at once unsettling and yet somehow familiar. One discovers that there is very little in Local Customs that follows from conventionally intentional music writing. It is perhaps better to regard it as a group of artifacts of little-known origins, modified through new transformations into something further unexplained.
The foundation for the piece is an "electronic harmony generator" that plays an endless sequence of chords exhibiting curious relationships with no purposeful direction. The musical lines for the ensemble consisting of flute, clarinets, trombone, contrabass, percussion, and electronic harmony - accumulated from coding and decoding various readings, investigations, and experiences during a summer residency in Italy.
Tom Hamilton has been composing and performing for over 40 years, and his work with electronic music originated in the late-60s era of analog synthesis. He often explores the interaction of many simultaneous layers of activity, prompting the use of "present-time listening" on the part of both performer and listener. Hamilton appears on synthesizer in his own ensembles, and has participated in groups led by Peter Zummo, David Soldier, and Michael Schumacher. He has recently performed with Thomas Buckner, Lisle Ellis, Chris Mann, Al Margolis, and Jacqueline Martelle. His CD London Fix received an award in the 2004 Prix Ars Electronica. He is a longtime member of composer Robert Ashley's touring opera ensemble, and his work can be found in over 60 CD releases of new and experimental music. Hamilton¹s CD Shadow Machine with guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil has just been released as well on the Pogus label.