Music Reviews

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Artist: Alex Nowitz (@)
Title: Homo Ludens
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
A STEIM resident Alex Nowitz is an exciting European composer who is sure to become a major figure in new music. For the first release on his new imprint, Nowitz Records, he presents three major electroacoustic works on "Homo Ludens". Composed between 2003 and 2009 the music heard here focuses mainly on the composer's vocal acrobats and how he uses them to interface with live electronics. The result is an exciting blend of electroacustic madness that brings to mind Iancu Dumitrescu and some of Mike Patton's mid 90s vocal explorations (most notably "Adult Themes for Voice").

The first piece, "Sirenjentranen und Seelentone", is a tense and intense journey where overdubbed clarinets, bass clarinets, pianos, vocals and synthesizers takes turns in long sustained sections of brutal uneasiness. Shifting between pulsing & bubbling sounds and layered vocals "Sirenjentranen und Seelentone" moves perfectly to the next piece, "Musik fur einen Sanger mit Live-Elektronik und Zuspiel fur zehn Lautsprescher" which begins with truly psychotic and inspiring manipulated vocals that are utterly captivating. This piece also features extreme dramatic shifts in dynamics, a feat which Nowitz pulls off masterfully. By the time the strings and percussion begin to interact wit the live electronics Nowitz has created a sound world that is as exciting and terrifying as anything ever done by Iannis Xenakis.

The final piece on "Homo Ludens" is entitled Angelus Novus, Nr.2, which brings the attention back to the composer's voice. An explosion of color Nowitz once again utilizes overdubbing and live electronics to exploit and showcase his entire vocal range. From percussive pops to throat singing, screeches to low drones Nowitz creates a rich sound environment that will leave the listener scratching their head and smiling at the same time.

Like his fellow STEIM resident, DJ SNiff, Nowitz is at his best when creating fully immersive music that makes the listener's head swirl. With "Homo Ludens" he's done just that.



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