Cook/Ma, an album containing two live performances by clarinetist Emily Cook and synth sculptor Dana Ma, was recently released on cassette by Crucible Sound, a Pittsburgh organization that seeks to promote collaboration and free improvisation.
Cook/Ma‘s Side A is a 25-minute set that was recorded in October 2018 at Polish Hill’s 3577 Studios. The improvised performance makes use of the clunks, whirrs, and rumbles of Ma’s modular synths and tapes, the atonal birdsong of Cook’s clarinet, and the empty spaces that stretch between the noises being made. It’s like watching (listening to?) an abstract expressionist artwork being created in slow motion, paint spatters replaced by grinding machinery and trilling woodwind, administered to a backdrop of silence rather than canvas. It’s unusual, but the performance truly does sound like an extensive dialogue between two disparate artists, true freedom in motion.
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