An American with a background in African and Indian percussion, Adam Rudolph has devised a music-making system that he calls Cyclic Verticalism “whereby polymeters are combined with additive rhythm cycles” to make a “music fabric” that musicians can improvise against. He guides them with a “vocabulary of conducting gestures.” His orchestra of 33 souls expresses itself with chips and jitters, someone hoots through bamboo, someone else makes a rattling metallic sound like an offstage storm in the theatre.
Rudolph leads them through thematic moments: now we’re afrobeat, now we’re raga-esque, now we’re closer to jazz. All democratic omnivores, no single style, no single aural ethnicity, though the overall rhythm of the work is percussive in that it tends to prefer short strikes over fluid sweeps. A work so sustained is an impressive feat but the sounds are so numerous and so scattered that, contrary to the spirit of the project, they become anonymous. The person with the triangle does not, from the perspective of a listener, have the same scope for their personality that they would have if they were playing a violin in a chamber orchestra, where the composition might be fixed and formal but at least there would be long passages that would let them stretch their wings.
// Notes from the Road
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