James Rushford – VELLUS

Cajid Media

More good news from Melbourne, home of young James Rushford, a multitalented composer operating in “intermedia, installation and recorded mediums” who’s studied with the likes of Robert Ashley, Phill Niblock, Marcus Schmickler, Fred Frith and Michael Pisaro. Vellus, Rushford’s first album, delivers in style: influences aside, what shines throughout the set is an independent mind and a unique compositional personality. “Lucas Stumbles”, featuring the Speak Percussion ensemble, is what you get when youthful percussionists put their fingers in an electric outlet while playing a Naked City disc after a night of soul-searching. “Respite in the Woodland”, for clarinets and chamber organ, juxtaposes a terse, ventilated directness and the internal mechanisms of a humongous generator of murmuring pulses and piercing glissandi; it manages to not sound quite like anything else, although it wouldn’t be entirely out of place on Creative Sources. “La Madre”, for female vocalist, cello, electronics and percussion, is a meticulous deployment of humanity and altered mental states among mottled contrapuntal splashes and awakening jolts. A personal favourite is “Tractus”, scored for violin, violas, autoharp, cello, glockenspiel, double bass and tam-tam, where the music’s distinctive jargon evolves out of the peculiar resonances of certain instrumental pairings; the musicians handle the material with monstrous technical ability and hypersensitive reciprocal listening and intuition. Clarinets and electronics define the colours of “*holdmegentlytightly”, a cross between fplrsrflrsplsflsfrrr (copyright Dan Warburton), faint harmonics and “regular” notes augmented by extended techniques, electronic emissions dialoguing with a rather nervous, unstable interlocutor until the ear-scathing termination. “Borders” ends the program with solo double bass, in a commendable performance by Chloe Smith, who seems in complete control of dynamics, spacing and shading. It sets an admirable seal to a scintillating release – probably THE debut release of the last couple of years or so.


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