From The Machine Volume 1

Kenneth Kirschner & Joseph Branciforte

Greyfade Music, 2021

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The esteemed composers Kenneth Kirschner and Joseph Branciforte join forces on this first installment of a very innovative approach to acoustic instruments that employs algorithmic processes, generative systems, and indeterminacy across two very lengthy tracks. The songs origins can be traced back to software-based techniques, but the appearance of strings and keys gives them an organic pulse in an unconventional climate.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Side A consists of Kirschner's “April 20, 2015,” which hosts Jade Conlee on piano and Mariel Roberts and Meaghan Burke both holding down cello. While the trio offers a very intimate and cautious chamber landscape, it's actually a track rooted in electronics, as time stretching, looping and recombination are all part of the formula that Branciforte reverse engineered into its current version. Over 21+ minutes, the composition explores dramatic ideas, though it still retains the rhythmic and harmonic qualities of its digital life, too.

Side B belongs to “0123” by Joseph Branciforte, who is also a recording engineer and musician, and includes Tom Chiu's violin (Flux Quartet), Wendy Richman's viola (International Contemporary Ensemble), Christopher Gross' cello (Talea Ensemble), and Greg Chudzik's double bass (Talea Ensemble). A more ominous offering, this portion of the record displays a single four-note pitch cell, a simple chromatic cluster and the results of its progress through musical voice leading.

A low recording from the strings, the quartet manipulate rhythm, tempo, and dynamics with fascinating attention to detail, and it's one that benefits much from computer algorithms and the atypical presence of space and time.

The inclusion of digital ideas into modern music is certainly not hard to find these days, but few, if anyone, is or could do it quite like this. Essentially rewriting what chamber music is capable of, Kirschner and Branciforte craft a listen that's rich, exploratory, unpredictable, and worth many listens.

Rating: B+

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© 2021 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Greyfade Music, and is used for informational purposes only.