The Wire

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Listen: Catherine Lamb compositions

August 2014

Stream a selection of work by the US composer Catherine Lamb, featured in an article by Nick Cain in The Wire 367

US musician and composer Catherine Lamb studied at the California Institute of Arts between 2004–06 under Michael Pisaro and the late James Tenney. Though she is only in her early thirties, she has more than 70 compositions to her name. Most of them are for solo, duo or small ensembles, plus several for vocal groups and electronics.

Lamb tells Nick Cain in The Wire 367: "I follow the philosophy that the most intense sound is not the most intensive... I don’t agree with those who believe that sounds need to be pushed in order to be physical, or that they need to be loud in order to hear difference or summation tones. Particularly when working with particular tonal colourations and shadings, the more the tones are played in a plain and relaxed manner with room to blossom, the more expressive and generative they might become.”

"In/Gradient (Excerpt)" (2012)

from In/Gradient
(Sacred Realism)
Performed by Tucker Dulin (trombone), Andrew Lafkas (contrabass), Jason Brogan (electric guitar), Catherine Lamb (viola)

"Mirror (Excerpt)" (2007)
(forthcoming on NEOS)
Performed by Frank Reinecke (contrabass)

"Frames (Excerpt)" (2009/2013)
from West Coast Soundings
Performed by Lucia Mense (grand bass recorder) and Anton Lukoszevieze (violoncello)

"Shade/Gradient (Excerpt)" (2012/2013)
from Shade/Gradient
(forthcoming on Black Pollen Press)
Performed by Catherine Lamb (viola/voice)


I sat back and enjoyed this.

Lamb advocates for "the philosophy that the most intense sound is not the most intensive..." and largely delivers in these samples. I wonder though how big is the pool of listeners who will listen and appreciate it's subtlety.

As cliches and predictability erode the flow of good new music in other genres (rock/pop/rap etc) I've steadily introduced more music that overlaps classical/experimental and jazz into the show - many appear in Wire's excellent artist list above - but Lamb's work is difficult to include, length is not the issue alone, but length with soft intonation, and minimal 'tonal colourations and shadings' is a tough one.

One should make the music that one is drawn to, but it would be fascinating to hear what Lamb's 'intensive' work could be.

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