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1018 Distich

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Audio Excerpt:

Distich is a new disc featuring violist Mat Maneri and pianist Denman Maroney. Unlike many projects by each musician, the music on this disc is completely improvised, which brings in new aspects of each musician’s approach, while retaining their significant strengths.

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MatManeri1Mat Maneri denmanmarone1Denman Maroney

According to Roger C. Miller, a former student of Denman Maroney and an important musician in his own right, “There are no rhythms in the traditional sense in this music. But rhythm runs through it like the pulsing of a pond in summer. Living, non-linear (life is constantly full of non-linearity). Try track 7, 'Span'—this is a pretty wet environment—the stability of land is nowhere to be found. But there is plenty going on for those who have ears to hear it.

As a pianist, I have delved into the ‘prepared’ world, and I find Denman’s technique fascinating. His Hyperpiano is, essentially, heavy metal. There is no heavier instrument (you try moving one of those!): the soundboard, the tuning pins, the strings are all metal. You can hear the metal in Denman’s work; it is as much like machinery gone haywire as the cells in a tree dividing during the first warm days of spring.

If Denman’s metallic glissandos obliterate any sense of dividing the octave into 12 discrete parts, then Mat’s micro-tonalities eradicate superficial civilization every bit as much, even when he’s not the one leading the glissando slides down those slippery slopes. And the two together create an extremely pleasantly disorienting reorientation of the hearing system.”

In the Summer 2007 edition of Signal to Noise magazine, Bill Meyer says, “There are moments when this duo holds the preconceptions generated by their viola-piano line-up–close and gentle. But that’s just so that they, like loving pigeon keepers, can drop their object of adoration into the air and watch it defy free-fall. Maneri has expanded his instrument’s capabilities by adding an extra string, but even more by mastering the notes between the notes. Maroney works as much inside his piano as he does at the keyboard. But liberation from instrumental limitations doesn’t mean that they abandon their fundamental languages.

For every moment when Maroney makes his Steinway rattle and slur, there’s another where he chases a darting line across unprepared strings. And Maneri argues the chamber side of his music here most persuasively. The best moments come when the languages come together in a common tongue, as on ‘Couplet,’ where the commonly voiced piano passages seem to fly out of a thicket of blurred, bent metallic tones, and Maneri beats and drags on strings like a flint-chipper setting a much-needed fire. On the title tune, the duo’s spontaneous counterpoint is lithe and dramatic; on ‘Match,’ gamelan-like sonorities both compliment and challenge bowed melancholy. The recorded sound, as usual from this label, is clear and bright as new ice in the morning.”

Journalist Scott Verrastro, discussing the recording in the July/August 2007 edition of Jazz Times says, “At numerous occasions throughout the disc, it sounds as if the viola and Hyperpiano are the same instrument; their microtonal properties make it almost impossible to discern who is playing what. Maneri does play fractured melodies that can be briefly identified as Eastern European gypsy folk or the avant-classicalism of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, but mostly he just darts around Maroney and saws and plucks with abandon, refusing to settle on a rhythmic or melodic idea.”

The recording, which was recorded and mixed in the 24 bit domain, includes liner notes from Roger C. Miller, perhaps best known for his work with Mission of Burma and Birdsongs of the Mesozoic.

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