Friday, December 27, 2013

Inukusuit - Soundscapes by John Luther Adams

John Luther Adams

If I had to describe Inukusuit, I’d say it sounds like Edgar Varese’s “Ionization” performed in the woods. But that really doesn’t do justice to Adams’ innovative soundscape. Inukusuit is a work intended for outdoor performance The ambient sounds are an important part of the composition, making every performance unique.

Be warned: Inukusuit require a major time investment (about an hour) to be experienced properly. But it will be worth the effort.

The recording starts with about three minutes of ambient sounds of the forest, before the percussion ensemble makes its presence known. Eventually the ensemble builds to a climax, completely drowning out the sounds of nature. Then the man-made music subsides, and in the end, we are left with only the chirping of birds and wind rustling the trees.

Adams’ music seems an organic part of the landscape. There’s a lot of wooden percussive sounds (including a wooden flute), and the ensemble seems to rise and fall, as if breathing. The disc comes with both an audio CD and a DVD version. And that’s a good thing. Because the DVD, played through a 5.1 home theater system, will get you as close as possible to the performance – which, after all, involves heightening the listener’s sense of space.

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