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Marina Rosenfeld - Joy of Fear

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Artist: Marina Rosenfeld

Album: Joy of Fear

Label: Softl Music

Review date: Dec. 13, 2005

Joy of Fear captures New York turntablist and composer Marina Rosenfeld beginning a new phase of her journey through the infinite space of experimental sound. Combining the acoustic instrumentation and compositional practices of her earliest musical life with infusions from her most recent modus operandi – her own custom acetate records or “dub plates” – with Joy of Fear she has created a truly contemporary piece of classical music. Rosenfeld provides her own view of this fresh chapter: “With this record, I feel like I’ve come full circle, with the very concept of sonic disappearance that has driven much of my music for turntables beginning to disappear behind a new, more expansive idea or music structure.” It is an idea she would do well to pursue.

The set begins with a spooky DJ spinning an scratchy 78 on the slowest speed, conjuring up damp atmospherics, manifesting the ambiance of an abandoned cellar as a cello groans, heralding the possible entrance of some otherworldly phantom. Elsewhere, sparse Feldman-esque piano chords, wrapped in warm silence, are interrupted by a host of found sounds and other alien accompaniments like those often found dwelling inside Keith Rowe’s guitar cabinet. The juxtaposition of the untamed, almost clumsy, sound of the dub plates (approximating, at times, the pages of a book fluttering in the wind, at others, the song of electronically-charged particles falling on a tin roof) contrast beautifully with the elegantly refined chamber sections.

Only on the final piece, “Coming Home,” does the cello break rank in an attempt to match the vibrant chaos of its setting. Wild bow strokes gently shimmer to keep discordant pace with metropolitan traffic noise and other city life. The whole tapestry swirls about in a chasm of environmental distortion before eventually finding closure with a few intimate gestures of subtle string play.

By Spencer Grady

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