Published Oct 21, 2013The X Avant VIII Festival closed out with an ear tuned toward the wider world as "This Is Our Music" set its sights upon the happy collision of cultural diversity with contemporary practice.
Alaniaris opened the first set with a large ensemble tremolo texture that erupted to reveal a series of brilliant arrangements by pianist and trombonist Scott Good. The unusual mix of instruments (and surprising doublings) that included an amplified cimbalom made for an exhilarating journey informed in equal parts by jazz, punk and traditional musics from Greece and Turkey. It was a pitch-perfect manifestation of the X Avant philosophy.
The second set featured Gurpeet Chana's explorations of his tabla-to-MIDI interactions. Using a pair of instrument microphones, hardware interface, laptop computer and tablet, Chana uses the acoustic impulse of the tabla to drive his electronic instrument designs. His focus is on teasing out the melodic qualities of tabla playing, rather than using the technology to realize large, polyphonic textures.
There were some issues with latency as the milliseconds of delay between impact on the drum membrane and the electronic sound itself took some getting used to. Once the ears became acclimated, the promise of this particular sonic direction began to manifest itself. One hopes that this approach will see further expansion in both melody and instrument design as he continues down this incredibly promising path.