“Devices and Desires” embraces the musical potential of extended, microtonal flute techniques and interactive-electronics in a collection of composed works, structured improvisations and free improvs. It is the product of an inspired three-hour recording session and collaboration between Carla Rees—London based, ¼-tone flute specialist, improviser, and founder of the ensemble “rarescale”—and Minneapolis based composer and electronic musician Scott Miller.
In November 2011, Scott traveled to London for Carla’s premier performance of “Anterior/Interior,” which he wrote for her the previous summer. The day following the premier, they went into the recording studios to record the new work. That recording went spectacularly well (just listen to Carla’s incredible performance on the first track), which left a couple hours to track several improvisations. The result is “Devices and Desires.”
“Anterior/Interior” was composed based on Carla Rees’ extensive documentation of the multiphonic and extended performance capabilities of the Kingma system flute. According to the program notes, Anterior refers to our initial experience with the sound of the flute--the external shape that we hear, before entering into the sound. The interior can be found in the smaller, quantum level relationships contained within this shape. Real-time digital processing allows for intense magnification and dissection of the flute's sound, revealing beautiful inner rhythms and harmonies, always present but not easily apprehended.
Carla’s gift for improvising around a simple melodic motive and producing an engaging and beautiful sound really shines in works such as “Beauty is Eternity Gazing in a Mirror.” In this piece, Scott’s approach to processing the flute sound is ultimately simple, preserving the natural beauty of the instrument, while constructing a richly layered contrapuntal bed of reflected sound to support Carla’s improvisation, controlled in part by Carla’s own performance, contributing to the organic nature of the work.
“bending reed” and “Seriously, This is a Commitment” come from a single, 20 minute improvisation, presenting another perspective on the potential for real-time composition with their respective instruments. “bending reed” explores the flute’s microtonal promise, but “Seriously, This is a Commitment” is where Scott and Carla really get their groove on, experimenting with dance-like rhythms and beats in an incredibly coherent and focused free-improvisation.
“Omaggio a 1961” and “haiku, interrupted” are two works that Scott brought from his electroacoustic improv duo, “Willful Devices.” “Omaggio a 1961” is an improvisational exploration of programming designed to evoke the classic electroacoustic sound of the 1960s. “haiku, interrupted” is a structured improvisation based on five restrained—yet powerful—gestures which get carried away by the environment they themselves create, the ultimate closing piece for a CD that creates and navigates so many new musical worlds.