Living Torch


Using only trombone, bass clarinet, and Éliane Radigue’s ARP 2500, Malone creates two dense tracks of light air. The trombone and clarinet are working here in an 11-count just intonation system, long sounds played individually by Mats Älekint and Isak Hedtjärn to match each computer-generated sound wave. The ARP 2500 (which is sometimes distorted to soft shreds) helps color these ecstatically sad pieces. This is extremely, unabashedly slow and beautiful music. I haven’t played it yet without crying.

Sasha Frere-Jones

While the title of this piece is probably meant to do the evocative thing that titles usually do, it happens to be an apt description of where this piece stands in relation to its ancestry. It was commissioned by GRM studios, one of the historic epicenters of electroacoustic music; it used the GRM Acousmonium, a famous “loudspeaker orchestra” dating from 1974; and borrows an ARP 2500 synthesizer belonging to Éliane Radigue, all of which makes it a conscious torch-bearer for electronic-music tradition. And it can fairly call itself a living torch, because Malone weaves a complex blend of materials — 11-mean-tone tuning, live instruments, minimalist drone and repetition — into an engrossing timbral narrative. The piece especially shines in its second movement, where Malone razes her elaborately-constructed drone structure, leaving desolate clouds of distortion.

Sean Wood

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