Amnon Wolman: Sustains

Though sound installation artist and composer Amnon Wolman has written symphonic works, vocal and chamber pieces, and film and theatre music, the five pieces presented here might best be described as electronic classical music constructed from computer-generated and processed sounds. Par for the genre course, the Jerusalem, Israel-born composer's music is austere, occasionally hermetic, and unfolds with oh-so-careful deliberation, but it's also inviting for being rather conventionally structured, with lengthy pieces developing slowly towards resolutions and climaxes and featuring crescendos and diminuendos.

The three-minute overture, “35 MPH” opens the collection auspiciously with waves of shimmering tones escalating in volume as they cascade into view, a style Wolman revisits in “Three Tunnels” where droning, ghostly shimmer similarly rises and falls. “Slow Down” pushes the idea further, with steely sounds intensifying until they resemble an echo chamber teeming with noisily chattering life-forms. The album highlight is clearly “Hazardous Material” where the sparse meander of Rex Martin's tuba softly pierces the electronic gloom like a faintly sounding foghorn. Less engaging by comparison, the formally immaculate “Incline” is glacial microscaping of the 12k type but seems static when heard alongside the other pieces. Even so, Sustains remains a more than credible exercise in finely-wrought textural soundscaping from the head of Brooklyn College's electronic music department.

December 2005