Agnes Szelag: No Summer or Winter

Hopefully No Summer Or Winter's repellent cover design won't deter potential listeners from investigating a release that definitely deserves attention. In only twenty-five minutes, composer and video/audio installation artist Agnes Szelag establishes herself as a distinctive voice in the electroacoustic field, largely due to her innovative application of SuperCollider's processing treatments to her voice and cello playing. Szelag, who has worked with Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros, James Tenney, Terry Riley, Gregg Kowalsky, among others, creates meditative pieces where each element, whether digitally altered (e.g., the fluctuating tonalities of “Inside And Out”) or natural (e.g., the high-pitched cello bowing in “Man-Made Weather”), feels carefully situated within the whole. The EP's four compositions don't adhere to a conventionally melodic model but instead unfold as slowly evolving, multi-layered sinews of sound. In the two most arresting pieces, glassy tones bleed distortedly against an industrial ebb and flow of see-sawing loops (“Lato”) and cello lines drift through an amplified ambient-drone space haunted by ethereal flutterings and muffled bell tones (“Zima”). Now if only something could be done about that cover design…

June 2008