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Pauline Oliveros - The Roots of the Movement

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Artist: Pauline Oliveros

Album: The Roots of the Movement

Label: Hatology

Review date: Sep. 10, 2006

With the patience of a river cutting canyons into rock, Pauline Oliveros has carved her mark upon the face of contemporary music. She played electronics when you needed academic credentials to get your hands on an instrument, and composed and improvised with that least respected of keyboards, the accordion. She also set up her own Deep Listening Foundation to promote her ideas about music as a force that connects listeners, players, acoustic and electronic sounds, the spaces in which they operate, and the rest of the universe.

The Roots of the Movement is a solo recital that was recorded in Switzerland on November 10, 1987, then languished in a vault until now for reasons that can’t have had anything to do with the performance – it’s quite choice. Oliveros played an accordion, tuned in just intonation, within an interactive electronic environment. Joe McPhee’s liner notes don’t explain just how it works, but the electronic effects seem to modify the sounds without shaping them. On “Striations,” for example, her keyboard’s notes brighten and flicker in ways no ordinary accordion could accomplish, but there’s no looping or multiplication of the sound. Even so, “Crossing the Sands” and “Grains” have the gamboling, repetitive quality of Terry Riley back in his Poppy Nogood days, and I sure hope that you know that that is a good thing. Serene and hypnotic, so is this album.

By Bill Meyer

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