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Album Review

The title E.A.M. stands for electro-acoustic music, but Barry Schrader's works have little to do with Pierre Schaeffer, Jonty Harrison, or Francis Dhomont. He is more of a sound synthesist, a composer of electronic music with an ear for timbre. This is obvious right from the start: "Bachahama" (completed in 1986) is ten times more Wendy Carlos than Pierre Henry or Iannis Xenakis. Two familiar Bach fugues sandwich the "Air on the G String." The fugues sound like they are being savagely attacked by a Synclavier, while the "Air" takes its title to the letter: it opens up, thins out, and becomes airborne. "Ground" (1998) offers conceptual Baroque continuity as it borrows from the passacaglia, but it quickly becomes something else altogether, exploring rich drones. "Dance From the Outside" (1989) introduces musique concrète elements for a lively number that acts like an interlude in the program. The five "Still Lives" (2000) take the form of short (under two minutes) kinetic gestures. Schrader achieves some beautiful plastic aestheticism in these self-contained movements, the sounds describing perfect trajectories from quiet to loud, inside to outside, and such. The longest piece at 20 minutes, "Triptych" (2000) develops its material around three poles: pitch, rhythm, and timbre. It contains interesting variations, but even in its noisiest moments it hardly transcends its academic, even didactic nature. ~ François Couture, Rovi

EAM, Barry Schrader
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