Jexper Holmen: Oort Cloud
11 March 2011
Gapplegate Music Review
Jexper Holmen's Oort Cloud: Sustained Sound-Poetry at a High Level
is an Oort Cloud? It is a massive cloud of comets that surrounds our
part of the universe, a great distance away in human terms, but local
presumably on the infinite universe level.
Danish composer Jexper Holmen has composed an hour-long work based on the contemplation of that formation. It is entitled Oort Cloud and has just been recorded and released as a Dacapo Records CD (8-226562).
I worked at Scientific American books, the then-president referred to
comets in a launch meeting as "those snoozy things." True. Get one of
them in isolation, they are rather just "there." Put them in an Oort
Cloud surrounding our friendly neighborhood universe-space and they
become rather mysterious and at this point, ineffable.
might be said for Holmen's composition. One minute of it will not bring
you to your feet with shouts of "Bravo!" An hour of this music very well
might. That's because it's the cumulative effect of the musical cloud,
hovering over our aural world, that becomes increasingly mystical, as it
were, in its ever-presence.
The nuts and bolts of it are as
follows: there are two accordionists and what sounds like an alto or
soprano sax, situated in a resonant performance space. The accordions
play continuous key-less tone clusters that shift gradually note-wise
and vary in dynamic levels. The saxophonist gives out periodically with
long multiphonic blasts and quieter soundings of same, as well as
overtone-rich sustain notes. The key operative here is "sustain." The
music is a continuous series of long tones that form collectively a kind
of musical equivalent to the Oort Cloud.
It's ambient. It has
patches that are fairly dissonant. The resonance of the performance
chamber and the continually shifting blocks of unusual sound clusters
make for an aural experience that has a kind of expansive effect on the
perceiving hearer. It can become a kind of meditation on the mysteries
of the universe and that cloud of comets that ring our world. That was
what I began feeling as I listened over time.
There is nothing
quite like this piece out there.You may love it, you may hate it, but
you cannot ignore it. That says something. In that way, as in other ways
as well, this music is a ringing success. Don't go near it, though, if
you expect some kind of entertainment. It is rather more serious than
that. It's almost a form of knowledge. For all that, it is unparalleled
among works being produced today.