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Noah Creshevsky: "To know and not to know"

img  Tobias

Do we build our own reality? In the work of Noah Creshevsky, this question is of pivotal importance. More precisely, of course, it could be rephrased to: What part of reality do we consider “natural” and how does one define the border to the artificial, the synthetic and the processed?

Creshevsky’s music offers answers, but they are characterised by an inner dichotomy between the philosphical and the emotional. If we dissect sounds from our direct environment and piece them together without technical manipulation, this does not, after all,.automatically imply that the overall result will be recognisable as well. For the concept of Hyperrealism, this is, however, just the starting point.

Or maybe it is only another sideissue to the greater goals Creshevsky has been persuing: Perfecting the “super performer” by technological means and playing the world like a giant orchestra. Creshevsky’s most immediate aim is to broaden the palette of possible sonic expressions and of using what is at everybody’s disposal in the most creative and imaginative way.

Being lazy, one could call this “sampling”, but the source material is less of importance to this former student of Nadia Boulanger in the context of musical content than in terms of providing timbre. Every single note on “To Know and not to Know” makes this amply clear. On “Psalmus XXII”, “Once” and “Jubilate”, the ripped-apart vocals of one performer serve as harmonic grounding to the fluent chant of another. These fragments do not ask to be appreciated individually. Their sonic shape and formulation is not the object of interest. Instead, it is the expressiveness which lies behind stringing them together in equally disturbing and natural chains and of turning each single chord, tone or syllable into something unique and personal.

A new colourfulness lurks behind the pieces, as does a positively playful mind, which transforms Beth Griffiths soprano into organ chords, erotic sighs and then back into her original register again. The demand of not abusing his artistic partners for mere sound production is underlined by the fact that male voices remain in the lower spectrum and female voices in the upper – these pieces are not only formally duets, they are so in a musical way as well.

Even though the tracks collected on this disc cover almost ten years of composing, for most part they all follow the same principles and motives. Most interestingly, their architecture appears to be led by piecing groups of samples together both by traditional harmonic rules, as well as by their “gesture”: Upward and downward movement on “Red Carpet”, for example, or backwards viewing in “Sequenza (For Trombone)”.

Despite its snippeted building blocks, Noah Creshevsky’s hyperrealist music does not sound piecemeal at all. He achieves this by incredible craftmanship in arranging the different elements into consistent lines in sync with the super performer approach mentioned above as well as by humour: Chris Mann’s contortions on “Free Speech” are as groovy as they are comical. Just like everything else here, they remain recognisable, but establish a new world with its own aesthetics.

While sounding astutely “natural”, this term has lost its initial meaning and now rather defines a state which still sounds spontaneous and organic to the human ear. Noah Creshevsky clearly builds his own reality here, but it is not an abstraction and open to everyone.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Tzadik Records 

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