Monday, 17 October 2016
Iancu Dumitrescu - Medium III, Cogito etc (1991 compi of works '73-'85)
All of this first CD was devoted to such a mopping-up exercise - but one of such mind-bending sonics that it hangs together well as a double-album experience. Not least because the first three tracks centre on the talents of avant-garde double-bassist Fernando Grillo, heard for the first 23 minutes of this disc with no other accompaniment. Think that much solo bass could be a bit of a bore? Let Medium III convince you otherwise, in a scraping, screeching masterclass that sounds like Xenakis' solo cello piece Nomos Alpha being reinterpreted by sunn o))) (Stephen O'Malley has in fact worked with Dumitrescu in recent years).
In the following Cogito (Trompe l'Oeil), Grillo is paired up with another bassist, Ion Ghita, and Dumitrescu's Hyperion Ensemble playing prepard piano, Javanese gong, crystals and metal objects. Cogito makes full use of the frequency range, sounding almost electronic at times with a needling, feedback-like whine. The third vehicle for Grillo (who died in 2013 at 67, in an apparent suicide) is Aulodie Mioritică, which fills out the sonic landscape even more with a percussive thunderstorm and slow-motion sheet lightning in the strings. The CD is then rounded out by two older Dumitrescu works: Perspectives au Movemur, a nice scratchy, spectral string quartet from 1979, and an orchestral work, Apogeum. This closing piece from 1973 (and the recording appears to be vintage too, sounding a little ropey in places) is worth waiting for, creating a wonderfully unsettling Scelsi/Ligeti-esque atmosphere.
SGTG exclusive bonus track:
The 1987 German vinyl release of Medium/Cogito quoted Dumitrescu describing the solo piece as "the hidden, mysterious reverse of Cogito", and suggested that the two works could even be heard simultaneously, in those days presumably with two copies of the LP or with tape recordings. Want to hear? Of course you do. (First two tracks on the CD, mixed together by yours truly. Thanks to a discogs commenter for the info.)