Move in the Changing Light
is a fascinating new release from Phillip Schroeder. Ambient and experimental, this music would very definitely fall under the category of “contemporary classical.” A Professor of Music at Henderson State University in Arkansas, Schroeder brings a richly varied musical experience to his music that makes it both intellectual and accessible. Unlike his previous release, “Music for Piano,” which was solo piano, this CD incorporates a great deal of digital wizardry that allows Schroeder to play as many as five pianos at a time. (Before I read the liner notes, I couldn’t figure out how anyone could sustain trills and tremolo for such a long period of time without massive cramps in the arms and wrists!) The effect is of shimmering sounds that are really quite soothing despite the massive quantity of notes in various passages. The seven tracks vary in length from fifty-nine seconds to almost sixteen minutes, giving them time to open up and evolve. In addition to the piano(s), Schroeder is featured on synthesizer, electric bass, and percussion. He is joined by soprano Amy McGinty and baritone Robert Best singing wordless vocals, and Daniel Cline on cello. The sound is rich and full, and the complexity is subtle.
The CD opens with “Move in the Changing Light
2,” which features multi-track soprano, five pianos with digital delays, and synthesizer. The piano sounds are made up of layers, some a rapid filigree effect, and others more floating. The ethereal soprano voice combines to create a feeling of vast space and sparkling light. This work is almost thirteen minutes, and some passages seem to float with others a bit more percussive. Despite the agitation of the piano, the overall effect is very relaxing and peaceful. “Rising, See the Invisible” is darker and more intense. Robert Best’s baritone is a passionate instrument in the ensemble comprised of cello, two pianos, synth, and vibraphone. The repeated note on the vibraphone throughout the piece evokes a sense of urgency, and the cello’s voice is mournful. The depth of emotion in this piece is stunning. “Where Joy May Dwell” is a piece for two pianos and two pianos with digital delays. The shimmering underpinnings are similar to the first track, with a much slower, simpler piano over the top. As the piece develops, some of the shimmering comes to the foreground, and the interplay between the two continues throughout the just-under sixteen-minute piece. Schroeder again creates the feeling of vast space and openness. “This We Have” includes soprano, three pianos, one piano with digital delays, synth, and electric bass. The music seems to float peacefully on a cloud or on gentle water - gorgeous! The CD closes with the original version of the title track. This version has the same instrumentation without the soprano. It’s very interesting to hear the piece without the calming voice - much more agitato, but still gently glistening in the light.
The Innova website suggests: “Draw the blinds, draw a bath, and let your mind take this gentle voyage.” I couldn’t have said it better! Far from ear candy, Move in the Changing Light
could be too much of a challenge for some listeners, but if you are interested in something different and substantial, I highly recommend it. It is available from innovarecordings.com