Los Angeles Percussion Quartet: Beyond

Beyond

(Sono Luminus)
US: 17 Jun 2017
UK: 17 Jun 2017

Location seems to consistently play a significant factor in the music of the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet. The Grammy-nominated group initially formed to champion the works of 20th-century composers hailing from the West Coast, although in recent years their scope has expanded towards a more global focus. Recent contributions from collaborators originating from or residing in New York, Brazil, Australia, and Iceland reflect this new outlook. The liner notes to Beyond, their third recording for Solo Luminus, discuss the Los Angeles contemporary music scene and its connection to place, space, and awareness; these themes undeniable permeate the record’s repertoire and aesthetic. Packaged as three discs (two standard CDs and one Blu-ray that combines those two into one), Beyond is a striking and ambitious work in both intent and depth of material.

The evolution of textures in“Qui Tollis” evokes the homeland of its Icelandic composer, Daníel Bjarnason. The work builds from chittering xylophone rolls and ethereal hums to pounding bass drums and electronic howls. Encompassing elements of elegance and primal chaos, “Qui Tollis” reflects both the still beauty and the harsh elements of the northern tundra. Images of Icelandic landscapes, the beautiful and the damning alike, are inescapable. Perhaps the most cinematic track on the recording, Bjarnson’s evocative tone poem will astound even the most instrumental-adverse listeners.

In her bio, Anna Thorvaldsdottir relates how she often “…works with large sonic structures that tend to reveal… her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature”. This quality immediately becomes apparent upon hearing “Aura”, her contribution to Beyond. The aural depictions of immense Icelandic landscapes return as drum skins are rubbed to mimic howling winds and sustained tones from bowed instruments conjure grandeur and awe. Performing on physical…

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