Thu Jun 14 2007
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Some folks document overseas trips with group e-mails, blog entries and snapshots by the megapixel. Others do well to drop a few postcards in the mailbox—usually the day they get home. Call Alexandra Gardner an overachiever: Luminoso, a disc of vivid electroacoustic pieces, provides an account of her two-year residency at the Institut Universitari del’Audiovisual/Phonos Foundation in Barcelona.
The hardware and software Gardner employs on Luminoso respond to her commands like a pianist’s Steinway or a fiddler’s Strad; her electronic elements seem to move with the same volition and flexibility as her human collaborators. Even so, nothing meanders: Each work on Luminoso has a shape, a momentum and a destination.
The title track surrounds guitarist Enrique Malo Lop’s flamenco strums with a crepuscular light fashioned from acoustic-guitar sounds. In Tourmaline, Xelo Giner’s soprano saxophone dances with lines of chatter and glitch. The woody plunk of Robert Armengol’s marimba in Ayehli rises above a steely ambience, recorded at Ground Zero in December 2001, like a hardy stem pushing through a crack in the sidewalk. Bass clarinetist Harry Sparnaay navigates alien terrain in nice, while in Snapdragon, trombonist Carlos Gil Ferrer pursues a ghostly counterpart through the streets of Barcelona. New Skin, which closes the disc, pairs Barbara Held’s alto flute and Gardner’s computer in a slow-moving duologue, by turns meditative and gritty. — Steve Smith