Jeff Morris’s second album, WITH STRINGS, explores the possibilities of 21st-century counterpoint. He builds up rich musical textures by sampling violin and cello live and folding them back into the mix, influencing the performers in turn.
German electric cellist Ulrich Maiss, a former collaborator of Lou Reed and Al Di Meola, joins Morris on B4ch1007 (“Bach Loot”). The piece is a vivid, glitchy fantasy on J. S. Bach’s music, with inspiration from Lou Reed’s classic Metal Machine Music and a video graphic score reminiscent of early experimental film by Hans Richter. Morris uses sound to visually distort the manuscript of Bach’s famous Cello Suite, yielding a new musical score to read. This audiovisual reimagining is native to our time while gleaning some underlying musical intuition from the flow of Bach’s music.
Eric KM Clark (Southland Ensemble, California E.A.R. Unit) performs a tryptich of improvised works in different interactive environments: a virtual string quintet, a tangled strand of echoes, and a microscopic journey inside the materials that make up the violin itself. Morris controls these musical constructs live, which are inspired by a house of mirrors and Einstein’s daydream of riding beside a beam of light. Using control interfaces like a gamepad and Nintendo Wii Remotes (Wiimotes), Morris takes a variety of roles in the music, ranging from a performer alongside Clark to a digital conductor of his own software orchestra.
This is not your ordinary laid-back “strings” music. Rather, it is a vibrant journey through the possibilities of digital-native chamber music that is sure to light up your imagination.