Marvin Ayres: Ultradian Rhythms
Having already issued a number of well-received albums such as Cellosphere, Neptune, and Harmogram Suite, British composer Marvin Ayres returns with the wondrous Ultradian Rhythms. This latest effort can easily be heard as an encapsulation of sorts, a six-part composition that brings together the myriad strengths of Ayres as both composer and musician. Interestingly, though it began life as a short improvised piece for live performance, it has blossomed into a scored orchestral suite for the recording.
Nearly an hour long, Ultradian Rhythms features six movements, five numbered “Variations” and the nineteen-minute closing piece “Ultradian,” each of which presents a distinct musical character. Applying the principle of cyclical ultradian rhythms to the work, Ayres creates an oceanic soundworld where a lilting swirl is generated by an orchestra-sized collection of string instruments. Hazy patterns in “Ultradian” and the first and fourth variations loop in an hypnotic manner reminiscent of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas recordings Zauberberg, Königsforst, and Pop—though with the beats stripped away, of course, and with Ayre's opaque string masses swooning so potently, the listener is quickly pulled into the music's complex web. But if those movements align themselves to ambient-electronic soundscaping, the second, third, and fifth variations, so powerfully mournful and supplicating in tone, draw a clear line from Ayres to a classical music figure such as John Tavener and specifically his The Protecting Veil.What makes Ultradian Rhythms particularly compelling as a sonic experience is that every violin, viola, cello, and double bass part was played live by Ayres, with no copies or duplicates generated in order to simulate an orchestra. In other words, while overdubbing was of course used, the recording's orchestral effect wasn't realized by merely duplicating a single recorded part but rather by painstakingly playing and layering multiple parts, a move that lends this remarkable recording of modern classical music enhanced authenticity and credibility.