On Wednesday night, I donated some of my hearing to Mario Diaz de Leon and Jeremiah Cymerman in a concert curated by Tim Byrnes at Vaudeville Park. Yes, it was detrimentally loud in some sections, but I consciously decided to stay in their dimension-bending soundscape. From the timbral variety of their soundcheck, I could tell that their set would be high-caliber.
I do not know how long the duo played their non-stop waves of harmonically unified ideas because I lost my sense of time. I felt the form through changes in the guitar’s texture and the clarinet’s note durations. Sudden shifts of register impacted the structure and the mood, but there were also some Reich-like instances of one idea phasing into another.
I was most in awe of their use of timbre. Reverb was craftily filtered to specific frequencies. An enveloping density was created with clarinet trills being looped underneath brief atonal motives. The distortion of repeated guitar chords was mesmerizing and beautiful. My favorite sections were those when Cymerman’s long clarinet tones and multiphonics were suspended in the precision of Diaz de Leon’s electric guitar feedback, which was dramatically choreographed in relation to two amps. Sometimes I could not tell which instrument was producing the tone.
The abrupt silence that ended the piece disoriented me. It logically contrasted with the sustained chords that had threatened to end the piece at the conclusion of earlier sections, but how could I be ready to be ousted from the realm of the best live processing I have heard in a long time?