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Bones and Other Places

by Spider Control

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Other traces 02:05
Homeostasis 20:59


Please enjoy this first release by the unique duo of sound and visual artist, Rob Buchert with composer/improviser Christian Asplund--the Provo-based Spider Control.

Recorded in an abandoned stairwell in the soon to be flattened Harris Fine Arts Center of Brigham Young University, November. We dodged construction workers preparing for demolition, alumni seeking a last glimpse of their educational history and university personnel intent on their own oblique objectives.

From a review by eminent composer and musicologist, Michael Hicks:

"Signs of Holy Ghosts
I've never started a review by throwing down a gauntlet. But here's one: Christian Asplund and Rob Buchert's Bones and Other Places is the most important piece of Mormon music in the 21st century.
To write that might seem as "guerilla" as the album in question, recorded on the sly with viola, field organ, synthesizer, and "found" architectural elements in a deep-echoing stairwell of the about-to-be-demolished Harris Fine Arts Center in November 2022. But as I describe the tracks on the album, my gauge of importance will become clear, or at least as translucent as the music itself.
The first of the four tracks, "Spaces, places," opens with angular fanfares, the remnants of whose perfect fourths and fifths keep returning even as the quasi-heroic heralding mutates into lamentation. A cantillation unspools in the viola over synthesizer drones, and here as everywhere in the album-the players tap on walls and the aluminum handrails in the stairwell, whose ambience is the unearthly spirit of the entire album.
That first track makes for a convincing, if gut-wrenching, exposition for what is really a four- movement work on the impending wreckage of what had been for over half a century the Temple of the Arts in Mormon culture. The history of beauty-and the beauty of history-being gutted is the leitmotif.
The second track-I'll just say "movement" from here on-"Other Traces," offers a funereal chorale by the field organ, though one in which the bellows and pedals provide gasping and rustling as if from a hidden world. As the two worlds gently wrestle for dominance, the music seems to say: you can disembody a building, but you can never kill it.
The third movement, "Bones, Thrones," begins with the sonic image of a pitched metronome dismantling itself and reemerging in a carousel calliope. The pervasive-but always beautiful- noisiness continues, as if the fine arts center is a kind of phoenix flapping its wings either toward or away from death.
I had expected the final movement to offer a cataclysm, a pseudo-apocalyptic breakdown to foreshadow the HFAC's imminent doom. Instead, under the rubric "Homeostasis," Asplund and Buchert provide a droning-yet-stuttering ascent toward transcendence. With a duration of the other three movements combined-as if moving from metronomic to geologic time-this one begins with a subterranean drone evoking, to my ears, the idling of bulldozers. Above it, a long- breathed melody emerges, one that seems a formal, but wordless, dedicatory prayer for the grave of an epoch. As if answering that prayer, the idling gradually begins to blossom and branch into arias, small and large. We begin to feel how fine the line is between lament and love song, even as the viola moves its melodies briefly into pizzicato, the eerie sound of, yes, bones and tendons snapping. The gasping and rustling continue their occasional commentary. But the whole movement evolves into blurry, aquatic reverie, and the viola breaking its earlier song into terse phonemes. Two minutes before the end, Asplund begins rapid muttering, sotto voce, a kind of fast-forwarding through snatches of the rhetoric that once filled the building's classrooms and hallways.
All told, the four-movement work, an off-kilter but devastating symphony of ambience, comprises a suite of sermons on death, and yet the survival of the soul, even through haunting. Beyond that, though, the clandestine performance in a powerful resonance chamber about to be battered into dust elevates the work to a mythic level.
One of my old composition professors used to say, "The performance is nothing, the recording is everything." I hated that thought, as would Asplund, for whom live performance is the sine qua non of music as communication. But here, the recording is everything. It's a perfect relic (one that requires the compact disc to fully admire). It discloses, in an almost confessional way, interior space's ghostly relationship with architecture. But beyond that, it drains a temple's sacredness into a chalice of sonority unlike any other I've heard. What could be a more important Mormon musical work? "


released August 1, 2023

Bones and Other Places • Spider Control (in this instance) is Christian Asplund and Rob Buchert.
Christian: viola, field organ, synth, circumstantial percussion, voice
Rob: synth, circumstantial percussion, movements and adjustments
Mixed at Tryst Press
Mastered by Troy Sales
Produced by Rob Buchert
Art and design by Tryst Press
(c) (p) Christian Asplund (Comprovise/Frog Peak Music/ASCAP), and Rob Buchert (Tryst Press)
Comprovise Records 202302 


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Christian Asplund Provo, Utah

Award-winning Canadian-American composer-performer. All scores published by Frog Peak Music. Books/articles in Perspectives of New Music, American Music, UW and U of IL Presses. Words used by the press: passion panoramic-power pure-pointillist plaintive rocking rollicking searing subdued soothing submersive splendid ethereal mesmerizing mind-blowing toothy otherworldly absorbing bewitching ... more

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