In his liner notes for Aerial Age, thirty-four year old Chicago percussionist Tim Daisy reveals the sources of his music with indisputable objectivity. His compositions have grown from his assimilation of a scintillating cultural environment that includes not only the music of essential late 20th century classical composers, but also the art of a rather eclectic group of late 20th century artists. As a means to showcase his compositions, Daisy created the trio Vox Arcana in 2008 with two extraordinary Chicago musicians, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and clarinetist James Falzone.
The music on Aerial Age is as clear cut as the liner notes. The shifting from one set of instrumental tactics and timbre to another alters the momentum, concretizes the focus and captures balance before the shifting recurs. The music abandons neither thematic strength nor substance, even when Lonberg-Holm grinds his bow into the cello strings, with an electronic extension, in an improvisational gesture that fits appropriately into the musical gestalt. The larger sonic system, whose identity slowly blooms, within each piece, is replete with microcosms of repetitions, slowing bluesy tempos, quick upbeat phrasings, contrapuntal divergences, tight constructs and relaxed flourishes.
Daisy plays both a traditional trap set and marimba, unobtrusively, as if to give his universe a subliminal rhythm and ambiance. He unfurls an embracing cyclorama around the trio with his light touch of mallets to marimba or toms, or brushes to snares. The overarching pristine quality of Falzone’s tone and note articulation rivals that of any classical virtuoso; he breathes vitality through his instrument with exceptional ease. A student of Morton Feldman, Lonberg-Holm directly reflects Daisy’s musical sources. Lonberg-Holm’s detailed arco intensity is invaluable to the coherence of Daisy’s music. It is Lonberg-Holm’s unceasing adventurousness that brings any deathly formalism to a screeching halt, literally, in this stunning recording.