Ryoko Akama/Joseph Clayton Mills/Will Montgomery – Inscriptions [CD-R/Score]

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Ryoko Akama/Joseph Clayton Mills/Will Montgomery – Inscriptions [CD-R/Score]

9.00

Label: Suppedaneum

Format: CD-R/Score

Year: 2017

Suppedaneum showcases two proposals composer Ryoko Akama devised for Will Montgomery and Joseph Clayton Mills, supplying the listener with cardstock replicas of the graphic and texts suggestions, the respective performers’ interpretation notes, and a CD-R documenting the results. Akama has had a recent surge in activity of late—she was previously part of the Lappetities (even though I’ve heard the CD, I still had to be reminded of her involvement), and her recorded output between that disc's release in 2005 and the next decade was sparse. In the past few years, she’s emerged as a prolific composer with a clear vision centered around alternative scoring techniques and what might be characterized as ‘small music’. Montgomery’s proposal plants the seed for an interpretive work of fluid vibration between a multiplying array of tones, with spikes of piano functioning as audible cues, stamping out the grid structure for the morphing shades of juxtaposition. Proposal 6 suggests a magnification of a gradually forming topography which, at first, bears a similarity to Alvin Lucier’s pure wave and solo instrument pieces on Still Lives, however that comparison runs dry quickly. It’s not long before Montgomery ventures into more grizzly, saturated territory—feedback and cross modulation embolden the piece with texture reminiscent of a controlled burn. There’s no specific focus on sustained linearity or acoustic phenomena; the movement of the piece is directed in shifting narrative stages that fade in and out, rearranging the components and allowing new energies to snowball and feed off one another. Mills works with a completely different set of ingredients for Proposal 7, yielding a series of object studies informed by precipitation. The performer’s notes for this piece are a noticeably more concrete, empirical document compared to Montgomery’s associative, poetic interpretation—which makes sense, considering the tactile, photographic nature of Mills’ realization. As a suite of three different approaches, this one is an instant gratifier to me (who doesn’t like some well-recorded rainfall?). Mills allows his interpretation to take on different forms which have a common thread, yet contrast one another effectively. The text acts as the primary guide for source material, the graphic element for the execution and arrangement. Using only rain recordings, BBs in a cup and bowl, and a microfiche machine, the performer makes full use of the stereo width to best serve the score, and allows his chosen mediums to reflect one another in high-res detail. Never the least bit dull, Proposal 7 is a detailed triptych of raw, pointed sounds. As a whole, Inscriptions is a thoroughly considered, multifaceted look into the work of all three artists that goes well beyond the standard presentation, offering a full, extended listening experience in wood veneered envelope. Hardly any excuse not to pick this up if you’re the least bit interested in any party.

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Proposal (/prəˈpōzəl/) noun 1. A plan or suggestion, especially a formal or written one, put forward for consideration or discussion by others. 2 An offer of marriage.
Presenting realizations by Will Montgomery and Joseph Clayton Mills of two compositions by Ryoko Akama, inscriptions is the second in a series of releases documenting Akama’s “proposal” scores. The use of this word, “proposal,” is deliberate and crucial. It makes clear that Akama’s compositions are suggestions, put forward for consideration and exploration, rather than directives to be obeyed. As with acceptance, released by Suppedaneum in 2016, each proposal in the series draws on a similar compositional vocabulary—arrows, shaded boxes, and fragments of text—but each is also subtly different, written to reflect the particular character of the musician to whom it is dedicated. The scores themselves are open and allusive, occupying an ambiguous middle ground between drawing, poetry, and instructions, and the question of how these elements are to be assembled and understood is left unresolved. Or, rather, it is left to the imagination and understanding of each performer. Each score thus originates as a kind of portrait but, in the act of realization, becomes just as much a self-portrait. What each performer brings to Akama’s proposals—how they chose to recognize themselves in what she has given them, and how they accept, resist, or reinscribe her compositions—becomes as crucial as what she offers them.
This release, presented together in a wooden veneer envelope, includes an archival CD-R containing realizations of each piece, one copy of each of the two proposals, a brief text from each performer describing their approach to Akama’s score, and an additional informational sheet providing credits and track listing.
This is Suppedaneum no. 14.
 1. a proposal - six, for Will Montgomery [27:00]
2. a proposal - seven, for Joseph Clayton Mills [27:00]
All compositions by Ryoko Akama
Mastered by A.F. Jones at Laminal Audio, San Diego, California.