Listeners should be advised that Adam Rudolph doesn’t play a beat on this album; it’s a gathering of recent compositions performed by various others, including members of his own New York-based Go: Organic Orchestra. The clear standouts are the first two tracks, in which the Momenta String Quartet gives incisive readings of “Morphic Resonances” and “Syntactic Adventures”—the latter piece dedicated to Rudolph’s mentor Yusef Lateef. Rudolph’s background as a percussionist manifests itself in the use of what he calls “ostinatos of circularity,” layered polyrhythms that create the effect of one part blending almost imperceptibly into another. On the aptly titled “Morphic Resonances,” the sound generated by the violins, viola and cello often brings to mind a backwards tape loop, with individual note attacks camouflaged by subtle shifts in timbre.
The remaining tracks don’t leave as lasting an impression, but that’s due less to any particular weakness on their part than it is to the strength of those string-quartet pieces. Best of the bunch is “Orbits,” played by the four-piece Odense Percussion Group of Denmark. Its low vibraphone washes and orchestral bass drum rumbles ring out like the dawn of a Varèsean doomsday. John Ehde’s questioning cello is the highlight of a take on “Coincidentia Oppositorum” by Kammeratorkestret Ensemble, another Dutch group. Flutist Kaoru Watanabe and guitarist Marco Cappelli close out the program with the stark “Lamento,” which suggests a cross between themes you might hear in a Japanese noh play and the quiet intensity of a Delta blues field recording. If you enjoy exploring the territory where through-composed and improvised music meet, this could be for you.