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Mariel Roberts

Nonextraneous sounds

(Dotdotdotmusic; US: 25 Sep 2012; UK: 25 Sep 2012)

These five compositions come from different composers, but they are all similar in some ways: they use the quick ping or pluck. They bounce those plucks around. They hit and then extend or counteract the hit. “A quartet of mimicking shadows,” writes Andy Akiho, describing his “Three Shades, Foreshadows”, sayings it’s “a cello solo with digital playback.” “Abrupt about-faces and mischievous reinterpretations of its own material,” says Sean Fraser, describing his “Teaser”.


Mariel Roberts is the woman on the cello, a lone performer partnered sometimes with electronics. She performs alertly, attackingly, seriously, and without ego, letting Akiho cut her up and allowing Tristan Perich to hailstorm her with 1-bit waveform data. Alex Mincek gives her a pattern of behaviours, squeak-rub-drone, rub-squeak, and she rubs and squeaks with gleaming wakefulness. Nonextraneous never relaxes—it moves in spasms or pulses, the squeaks and jabs firing themselves off like electrons counteracting or supporting the previous message, the whole thing galvanised like artificial life. Mincek’s “Flutter” imitates a moth that is not a moth, the rippling impossible movement of Perich’s “Formation” seeming biological when the component sounds are mechanical, and the fat, real three-dimensional cello feinting at its own digital echo in this uncanny valley.

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