Various 1+1=X

Various 1+1=X
8
Erased Tapes is celebrating its tenth year of packaging quality avant-garde music with style. This triple LP features contributions from every one of the London-based label's artists. These 20 striking pieces were all recorded during a series of sessions at Vox-Ton studio in Berlin between August 2016 and 2017, all produced by label head Robert Raths.
 
Rather than simply pull together a compilation, the goal was to record these works collectively, with an emphasis on improvisation. A lot of these pieces feature more than one Erased Tapes artist.
 
Kiasmos teams up with Högni and a string ensemble on what may be the collection's major highlight. Iceland's Högni delivers a vocal performance that will stop you in your tracks.
 
Nils Frahm performs alongside Penguin Café's Arthur Jeffres on "Up Is Good." The interplay between them is delicate and beautifully nuanced.
 
We're also treated to "Palisade 1," from Lubomyr Melnyk. The 70-year-old composer and pianist is of Ukrainian heritage, but he's lived a good chunk of his life in Canada. Melnyk is best known for pioneering what he calls "continuous music." It involves playing complex music at high speed while holding the sustain pedal down. This has a remarkably soothing effect, producing harmonic overtones and resonances.
 
I was lucky enough to meet Melnyk in the late '80s. At the time, he was frustrated at his inability to teach anyone his technique. His students simply couldn't keep up with him; their hands kept cramping up. "Palisade 1" is a relatively slow piece for him. Still, it's a gorgeous performance. Give Erased Tapes credit for recognizing his talent.
 
Because the work was all recorded in the same studio, a lot of the musicians shared instruments. That contributes to the collection's uniformly high quality and consistent feel. This is something special. (Erased Tapes)