Lewis Pesacov and wild Up: The Edge of Forever

Lewis Pesacov’s music carries a rare and delicate voice in today’s contemporary classical music.
Lewis Pesacov and wild Up
The Edge of Forever
The Industry Records

When a dear friend (nice shoes, non-smoker, bad taste in taste) returned from seeing the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Europe a few years ago, she thought it would be a good idea to give yours truly a call in order to file a formal complaint to the music industry. With me being a mere freelance journalist, this sounded a bit like when your mum calls you to protest because “Google has disappeared” from her computer. What were those freaks doing on stage? Why had the mighty RHCP invited them to open their gig? “Good karma,” I replied, to which I got no reaction. “But what about us poor fans, who have spent a fortune to see Anthony Kiedis and the most talked about socks in the rock music industry?” she cried. So I rushed to hear the band that dared standing between the advocates of pop (formerly gods of funk) and their loyal, albeit musically ill-equipped, fandom. Suddenly, everything became clear. The band in question was Fool’s Gold, Lewis Pesacov’s main act, a collective whose good inspiration is directly proportional to the magnitude of its following. Their mixture of world rhythms and krautrock may not appeal to the masses, but it has definitely put this act on the map.

So what happened when Pesacov met the Industry, one of the freshest “experimental music companies” in Los Angeles? I am not sure, but the result is undoubtedly interesting. With a libretto by Elizabeth Cline and five scenes depicting the story of an ancient astronomer who is so far from what he loves the most, trapped in the intricacies of time and space, this album is all about desire. “Desidus” is one of the most fascinating words whose evolution has reached us almost identically: desire. The prefix “de”, a negation, and “sidus”, or “star” in English, sum up ideally the philosophical content of Cline’s libretto. The word “desire”, or “starless”, describes a world in which the object of our fascination remains unreachable, unattainable, and therefore painfully present in our lives. This immanence is in dire conflict with the very nature of this opera, which has been performed the first and last time in Los Angeles, on the very day when, according to an alternative take on the Mayan calendar, the world was supposed to end. Once: because it would be marvelous to cease being while listening to this single tenor fluctuate through musical throes of primitivism and avant-garde. Once: because this is the only way in which its balance and purity are preserved.

Musically, The Edge of Forever is a chamber opera that, aside from tenor Ashley Faatoalia, is comprised of four female voices and an ensemble that includes two conch shell trumpets, woodwinds, strings, eight sine tone oscillators, and a small array of traditional percussion. Less musically dense than Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre and equally dramatic (but more direct) than John Adams’ The Rape of Lucretia, The Edge of Forever is a work that develops in vertical fashion, with emotional ups and downs, crescendos and climaxes, aimed at a dimension in which astronomy and metaphysics are the very warp and weft of the music proposed. With its echoes of Japanese Gagaku in “Ripples, Murmurs, Ripples, Sighs, Ripples, Hums” and a vague reference to Stockhausen’s Drei Lieder, Pesacov’s music carries a rare and delicate voice in today’s contemporary classical music. Its frailty and unique performance is the medium through which it solidifies into history. No evolution, no past, and no present; just future. Then another cycle will end with another opera.

RATING 7 / 10