Carolyn Yarnell,
Sonic Vision
(Tzadik, 2003)

Carolyn Yarnell presents the first album devoted entirely to her own composition. Sonic Vision blends the borders of classical and electronic music, blurs the time between Baroque and the 21st century. She derives her inspiration from things natural -- the beauty and the power of nature -- and her first piece, "The Same Sky," is a 19-minute composition commissioned by Kathleen Supove. Yarnell explains that, "no matter what we may have in this life, we share the same sky." This is scored for piano solo, computer and video, merging past performance technique with new technology. I enjoyed this track, though it has phases of rather overpowering piano work -- perhaps clouds or thunder in the sky?

The second composition is "More Spirit Than Matter," of which there are three movements on this CD. This also features American Baroque, a group that performs on harpsichord, viola da gamba and baroque instruments: flute,violin, oboe and cello. The piece was commissioned for them by the Common Sense Composers' Collective, of which Yarnell is a founding member. The harpsichord gives an instant dated feeling, yet the musical composition is both modern and timeless.

The third composition is "Love God," commissioned for Twisted Tutu and dedicated to the memory of Yarnell's late partner. The synthesiser work on this is reminiscent of the background music to a dangerous action scene in an early episode of Star Trek, to my mind, and I much preferred the previous, more tranquil tracks. The final piece is 10/18, in two parts, "Burning Man" (written at the festival of the same name) and "Breathless." Stephen Schultz features again on baroque flute and the music conveys the harshness and wonder of a desert landscape. Not my usual choice, this Sonic Vision, but an interesting album and music that stimulates reflection.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 19 June 2004