Soundscapes Cryptic And Beautiful

Mark Dresser, perhaps best known as the bassist in reed player Anthony Braxton's classic quartet from the '80s and '90s, leads many ensembles ranging from cutting-edge jazz (Force Green) to chamber music (the Modular Ensemble).

Frances-Marie Uitti is a renowned cellist/composer/performer celebrated for using two bows at once, allowing for complex multivoiced timbres. She has collaborated with many of the world's most daring composers, including Iannis Xenakis, Giacinto Scelsi and John Cage.

Sonomondo (RealAudio excerpt of title track) thus is a combination of advanced improvisation and modern composition. The title track begins with soft yet tense notes swaying unresolved, evocative of a boat lost at sea. The sounds deepen as the song progresses, at first droning with a heavy stillness, later spiraling with feverish urgency.

"La Finestra" (RealAudio excerpt) is a storm about to break. Phrases intertwine and crack upwards, overtones whistling. "Montebell" (RealAudio excerpt) is the closest the duo come to any recognizable classical style, but this quickly unravels into a dissonant march, the players engaged in howling rhythmic interplay before departing with long sustained brushstrokes.

Like a landscape, Sonomondo changes from moment to moment. Like a dialogue, it does not repeat but shifts in motion. Dresser and Uitti search the hollows of the wood and test the strength of their strings in pursuit of new sounds and textures. At once haunting, penetrating and dreamlike, their exquisite musicianship reveals a fascinating and rich language, a site of exploration and of possibilities.