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Jean-luc Fafchamps: KDGhZ2SA, a Six-Letter Sufi Word

Jean-luc Fafchamps
KDGhZ2SA
Sub Rosa
2012-04-10

Belgian composer Jean-Luc Fafchamps writes in an appealingly post-everything style, with diatonic minimalist gestures butting up against wheezy microtonal drones and so forth. Fafchamps’s latest muse is the Arabic alphabet, specifically a Sufi chart assigning certain characteristics to the various letters; he’s in the midst of writing an ode to each letter. This progress report documents a concert performance of his first “word”, which is — how about that? — paced like a concert.

“K” opens the show with big, gregarious horn fanfares, string flourishes, and heavy percussion; the lighter “D” contrasts pinched ostinatos with colorful clarinet and percussion runs. “Gh” slows everything down to a 14-minute gasp before a distorted oboe concerto and pastoral woodwind feature carry us through to the brawling open-form finale, which incorporates some of what we’ve already heard. Despite the conventional shape of the program, the individual “letters” don’t develop like musical narratives; they communicate a sense of stasis, even as their unique timbres and effects keep them revolving in your mind’s eye.

RATING 7 / 10
PopMatters