Biliana Voutchkova / Michael Thieke - Blurred Music (elsewhere 001-3) Lossless AIFF
Lossless Digital (AIFF 16bit/44k)
The triple album 'Blurred Music' features a Berlin-based duo of Bulgarian violinist Biliana Voutchkova and German clarinetist Michael Thieke's three live performances recorded in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York in December 2016.
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Biliana Voutchkova / Michael Thieke - Blurred Music
recorded live on December 7, 2016 at Carr Chapel, Chicago
recorded live on December 14, 2016 at Aux Performance Space, Philadelphia
New York (1:09:59)
recorded live on December 15, 2016 at Experimental Intermedia, NYC
All compositions by Biliana Voutchkova and Michael Thieke
Biliana Voutchkova - violin, voice
Michael Thieke - clarinet
recorded live by Michael Thieke
mixed and mastered by Taku Unami
artworks by David Sylvian
design by Yuko Zama
liner notes by Michael Thieke and Biliana Voutchkova
produced by David Sylvian and Yuko Zama
executive produced by Jon Abbey
(p) (c) 2018 elsewhere music
The Berlin-based Bulgarian violinist Biliana Voutchkova and German clarinetist Michael Thieke have worked together intensely within both compositional and improvisational duo and group projects in Berlin since 2011.
In their current project “Blurred Music”, the duo works with musical structures that create a blur; improvised parts alternate with fields of pre-structured material in which digital recordings of the duo are duplicated by live performance. Virtually identical fragments of the live performance synchronize simultaneously with the playback, unavoidably giving rise to blur in the temporal dimension, in the rhythmic, timbral, and motivic variations, and in the microtonal interpretation of individual pitches. The live portion of the duplicated material is still improvised, but within a framework purposefully restricted by the pre-recorded material, the intervals between which are indeterminate. To the listener’s perception, what is being composed in real time blurs into what has been structured in advance; the difference can be registered only after an interval, if at all.
The triple CD 'Blurred Music' features three of the duo's live performances, recorded in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York during their USA tour in December 2016. These three live recordings are all differently structured, factoring in the conditions and the atmosphere of each venue as well as the musicians' own perspective and mindset. This series of three concerts, all occurring within a nine day period, showcase the very wide range of this duo, so all three recordings combine to form a saga of their peak. Using their highly trained virtuosic skills and intense concentration, the duo carefully deconstructs the conventional tones of instruments into fine particles in an organic flow, to create a completely new world of music on their own, somewhere between tonality and atonality, and will hopefully be recognized as one of the most mature accomplishments of improvisational/compositional works of this era.
I first came to know these three live recordings of Blurred Music in January 2018 via David Sylvian, who discovered this duo's music several years ago and asked me and Jon Abbey if we were interested in releasing them as a triple CD from Erstwhile Records. Intrigued by the enthusiastic recommendation by Sylvian (who described this duo’s music as “something transcendent”), I listened to the whole set of three recordings twice in a row, and was completely entranced with the music. It was vibrant and dynamic music, while also containing some uniquely mysterious, contemplative silences throughout. The organic, spontaneous feel and the openness of the music initially made me assume that each piece was a result of an exquisite improvisation, but as I kept listening, I came to realize that all three performances were carefully structured interweaving composition and improvisation using the duo’s unique, extraordinary aesthetics. The balance between the two instruments was so delicately and carefully restrained within the classical compositional context. Each recording seems to have its own universe, but as a whole, all three seemed to form one epic piece or a saga, which moved me deeply every time I finished listening to all three. I understood perfectly why the musicians wanted to release these three live recordings as a triple CD, not just releasing one of them as a single CD.
Biliana Voutchkova's violin skills are remarkable, combining a strong core as a classically trained violinist with her free, adventurous spirit, navigating the music toward subtly balanced compositions, along with Michael Thieke's inventive, delicately nuanced multiphonic mastery of the clarinet. What fascinated me most was the translucent area where the two instruments and their pre-recorded materials (which I could not distinguish until the musicians explained to me, since all the sounds felt like they were happening live in the moment) moved along as one unified entity, sometimes on a razor-thin margin between tonality and atonality, while maintaining the naturalness and openness throughout in a similar way as improvisational music, which kept this music from falling into the rigidity of compositional structures. The way the duo developed the music on this thin line between the structure and the breathable open air was just so brilliant - an approach which made me feel like listening repeatedly.
Encountering this Blurred Music was the very reason why I decided to start my own label 'elsewhere', from which I can put out the music which truly moves me with its genuineness and timeless beauty, like this Voutchkova/Thieke's duo music does to me every time I listen to.
(Yuko Zama, June 10, 2018)