Vertis collects together two free improvisational performances from Marina Rosenfeld and Ben Vida, recorded at New York’s Fridman Gallery in 2016 and 2019 respectively. In part it seems to be released to help promote the gallery’s new series of weekly live streamed (and paid ticketed) performances from the locked-down, shelter-in-place-adhering gallery.
Each of the two 18-minute performances is an assembly of glitchy, multi-layered electronic sounds, controlled with an expressive hands-on and analogue feel, blended with occasional segments of more conventional instrumentation such as gentle piano work. Plus, for a live performance, it has a surprisingly broad range of other sonic elements on tap, from close breathy vocalisations to what seems to be found sounds ranging from vinyl artefacts to crowd noise. It’s a skittish landscape that never stays still for more than a minute or so before shifting impatiently, tweaking dizzyingly into something different.
Initially first piece “Any Landscape” is quite frantic, but its overall energy level dips in the second half somewhat, to let quieter details poke through, before settling on a low string-like drone that flutters with noise bubbles. Second pieces “Branches”, conversely, is much barren to begin, an alien landscape of uncomfortable bugs and wide spaces, which then builds, in phases, before spinning off on a tangent and finishing in a decidedly 1960’s Radiophonic Workshop world, a feeling boosted by the vinyl crackles that add to the feeling that you’ve discovered an old BBC LP.
It’s improvised experimental music that exhibits a certain sense of traditionalism in the range of sounds and the dynamic at play, and despite being a new release, it will certainly appeal to anyone who appreciates the historical side, and the historical tone, of experimental electronic music.