Released Concert @Spectrum, NY _ August 26, 2014

Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter _ DMG _ Downtown Music Gallery

 

"(...) ALESSANDRA NOVAGA - La Chambre Des Jeux Sonores (Setola Di Maiale 2690; Italy) Featuring Allessandra Novaga on electric guitars. This disc came in the mail last month and then Ms. Novaga turned up at DMG to introduce herself. I was intrigued by the way she plays when I heard this disc and fascinated to know that all of the pieces here are based on graphic scores by five composers, three Italians and two from the US. I had the opportunity to see & hear Ms. Novaga play this music last night (8/26/14) at Spectrum and was impressed by her unique approach. Generally graphic scores leave room for varied interpretations so each piece provided a different (visual & audio) approach to playing. Vittorio Zago's "Erosive Raindrops" reminded me of the way Keith Rowe uses a radio signal which is amplified through the pick-ups on his guitar. Soft feedback hums as Ms. Novaga rubs the strings was an object of some sort which is eerie and unsettling. There is a good use of space or silence in between the fragmented sounds that she used like splotches in a minimalist frame. On the second piece, "In Memoria" (by Sandro Mussida), she had a capo in the middle of the neck, holding down a chord on one side and plucking the strings on one side. The repeating theme recalled bells chiming over and over in the distance to great effect. I realized that being able to see how these sounds were made might take away from the mystery of how it sounds without watching. Paula Matthusen's "Collaborating Objects" was perhaps the most intense piece that night. Ms. Novaga used a thimble or small slide on one finger, tapping on different strings with static or soft feedbacking humming in the background. As the piece got louder, it sounded like ghosts squealing or howling at each other in a rather scary way. The sound was both brittle and eventually explosive before it ended. Ms. Novaga played her Fender Strat which was resting on a table for Travis Just's "International Hash Ring". She selectively banged on and rubbed the strings with a chopstick while manipulating the sounds with pedals at her feet. What I found most interesting about this set was that she relied little on any sort of melody and often on strange sounds and effects. The sound was still most enchanting although I was somewhat unnerved by the occasional mutant bent notes here and there. The final piece employed an e-bow where she slowly sped up or slowed down the central drone by detuning one string. The careful manipulation reminded me of floating on and or being submerged in a tank of thick liquid and swimming in slow motion. Each piece had a different effect over the way we perceived what was going on so it was effective on several levels at once. Just listening to this disc is an equally captivating affair. Don't dive in too quickly, though. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG Downtown Music Gallery