Record review: Now Ensemble's Dreamfall | Record Review | Indy Week

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Record review: Now Ensemble's Dreamfall

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Dreamfall, the third record by the New York-based NOW Ensemble, features seven pieces by seven composers, all with distinctive voices, exploring the idea of dreams. Its title track, written by group guitarist Mark Dancigers, tries to narrate a dream using a mix of post-minimalist grooves and classical flourishes. Scott Smallwood's "still in here" re-creates the eerie, metallic stillness of a quieted brain. The piece here that most thoroughly inhabits the dreamlike is "divine the rest," the work of Duke University composition professor John Supko.

Supko has long experimented with a radically open approach to composition. Here, he cedes almost all decision making to performers who are responding to the sounds a computer algorithm chooses to play—fragments of Supko's voice reading combinations of words selected by the computer, bits of field recordings, warm drones. Granular piano lines, echoing guitars and flickering flutes combine for an active, fragmented whole that leaves the woozy impresssion of a barely remembered dream. This set contains only one possible version of the work, of course, but it's easy to imagine that this piece never actually starts or stops. Like a dream world, it is always going. We just happen to pop in for a moment.

Label: New Amsterdam Records

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