I’m pretty familar with electronic/electroacoustic albums that demand to be “played at maximum volume”, or at very least “played loud”, but this one’s a nice oddity in its direction that “This compact disc should be played softly”.  It’s a recommendation that works just fine for these two vocal works and two percussive/tape works by Orlando Jacinto Garcia, born 1954 in Havana (emigrated to the US 1961).

First up is a choral tribute to Garcia’s early mentor, On The Eve Of The Second Year Anniversary Of Morton’s Death (1989).  The sole text is ‘la belleza del silencio es mi inspiracion’ – the beauty of silence is my inspiration – sung and whispered in little fragments.  Definitely a worthy tribute to Feldman.  In the following Improvisation With Metallic Materials (1990), the tape part is composed from piano timbres and then overlaid with sounds from a Yamaha WX7, a digital MIDI wind instrument.  As per the ‘Improvisation’ indication, there’s a nice, almost wind-chime-like formlessness to the piece, and not always mellow – it does clang around a fair bit, even at the suggested low volume.

Avant-garde vocal legend Joan La Barbara is the performer for Sitio Sin Nombre (1990), with her synthesized voice slowed down to an eerie groan before moving on to more plaintive and meditative cooing, and a little more out-there weirdness later on.  I’d go for that piece as a really lovely highlight of this collection.  Lastly, Metallic Images (1991) samples and manipulates bells and vibraphone tones for its tape part, and has a similar ambient drift to the Metallic Materials piece, but in an overall much more gentle vein.  All in all, this is a really nice collection of Garcia’s work, at any volume.

Alan Burns, slow goes the goose