CNVCD005 | 23.05.2012


Three Sixteens

format: CD | packaging: digipack

duration: 45 minutes, 3 tracks

limited to 200 copies






Arturas Bumšteinas - Three Sixteens


“Karlstad” was commissioned by Dutch new music ensemble DASH! as a remix track for their CD release „Bangalore“ in 2008.  Bumšteinas took very short snippets (no longer than 1 second) of breathing noises of the ensemble's vocalists and used it as loops to build the instrumental harmonies upon them. Short remix version of this “remix” with guest violinist Lina Lapelyt? was featured in Wire Tapper 22 compilation. The title of this piece is derived from the sofa brand of the Swedish IKEA shop. The part of commission fee which  Bumšteinas got for the creation of this piece was spent to purchase the abovementioned sofa. Tadas Žukauskas – violin; Anton Lukoszevieze – cello, voice; DASH! c/o Maarten Ornstein – samples


“Studie II” (2009) is a composition based on the spectral analysis of K.Stockhausen's early electronic piece of the same name.  Bumšteinas made the slowdown instrumental version of the original electronic piece which was performed in various instrumental combinations during the period of several years. All of these versions were recorded in concerts and rehearsals in  House of Culture (Wigry), Contemporary Arts Center (Vilnius), King's Place (London), Norwich School of Music (Norwich). All of these version were mixed together to make the final version which is published on this CD. Apartment House string quartet; Anton Lukoszevieze - solo cello;  Arturas Bumšteinas – synth; Rhodri Davies – harp.


“Multifat” (2010) was composed initialy as a score for string orchestra which was premiered by St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra (conductor Donatas Katkus) in the Vilnius Townhall concert. Later percussion and violin parts were added onto the electronically manipulated recording of the premiere performance. St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra (conductor Donatas Katkus); Tadas Žukauskas – violin; Hubert Zemler – percussion.


All tracks composed by Arturas Bumšteinas in 2009, 2010, Vilnius and Warsaw.


The Wire


Lithuanian artist Arturas Bumsteinas likes to keep his options open, working in various media and with a range of collaborators. Within his music he stays unpredictable too. Multifat, performed by a chamber orchestrawith violin and percussion soloists, initially resembles the brisk, repetitive and tightly regulated minimalism that was fashinable during the 1980s. But around six minutes into the piece, the weave begins to unravel; the orchestra dissolves into a digitised blur, ragged, distorted and fading. The soloists are left to pick their way through an unexpectedly cleared and no longer demarcated space.

Studie II, performed by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze, his Apartament House string quartet and harpist Rhodri Davies, apparently takes its lead from Stockhausen. But it's a lush, evocative, vaguely melancholic piece; a series of slow instrumental surges, cresting, falling away and finally evaporating through the spectral diffusion of a high electronic tone. On Karlstad Lukoszevieze's cello and Tadas Zukauskas' violin breathe together, accordion-like, while indistinct samples of the Dutch outfit DASH! circulate in a locked groove. Three Sixteens doesn't really tell us where Bumsteinas is heading, but it does confirm that his work is worth following.


[ Julian Cowley ]



The Watchful Ear


An interesting album tonight from a composer whose name I am aware of but whose music had not crossed my path until this release. Arturas Bumšteinas is a Lithuanian composer and visual artist who has quite a body of work behind him despite his relatively young age of 30. Three Sixteens is a new album on the Con-V label containing three works that are all at first blush compositions for chamber ensembles, but further delving into their content reveals more.


The first piece here, named Multifat was originally a scored piece for string orchestra. Its premiere performance took place in Bumšteinas' home city of Vilnius by the St Christopher Chamber Orchestra. Bumšteinas then took the recording of this concert and treated it electronically somehow before later adding additional violin and percussion parts into the mix. The resulting piece opens with a looping, repetitive section which sounds like a Reichian take on the opening to Kate Bush's Hounds of Love, but while this section remains, altering slightly, becoming more dense in places, and dissolving eventually into a gradually disappearing digital mush, a strong, bold series of strings sit above it, slowing the pace of the music right down and adding a sense of gravitas to the otherwise sprightly composition. If the opening sounds like competent if slightly uninteresting modern chamber composition, the track gradually disintegrates as the electronic processing pulls the base track apart, and the rising and falling swathes of strings are joined by constellations of little plucked string sounds and the percussion, which splits itself between deep rolling bass drum textures thrown in here and there and the sudden crashes of large cymbals. The track kind of straddles a line between music that complies with current inoffensive trends in contemporary composition and something more awkward, a feeling that is then continued through the album.


Studie II is apparently based on a spectral analysis (whatever one of those may be) of the Stockhausen score of the same name. Bumšteinas seems to have composed an instrumental, much slowed down version of Stockhausen's piece, which was then played by an assortment of instrumental groups at concerts in four locations across Europe. The musicians involved were a string quartet incarnation of Anton Lukoszevieze's Apartment House group, and solo performances by Lukoszevieze and the harpist Rhodri Davies. The recordings of these concerts were then taken by Bumšteinas and mixed together to produce the final piece here. The end result is a rather beautiful, dense mass of strings with some kind of tonal electronic undertow buried beneath it all (from Davies' electronic harp maybe?) There isn't really any melody, but there is still a feeling of romance amongst the swathes of sighing strings and the hum of the gently vibrating base sounds. Despite the use of electronics and digital processing on this album there is a real subtlety to it all, with the overriding feeling of Studie II being one of dense glowing strings and a kind of slow, decadent, mournful beauty. Its a very nicely arranged, lovingly recorded and mixed track that feels slightly oblique and misshapen when compared to most modern composition, and yet also feels resolutely composed and performed in a traditional manner, even though it, in part, certainly isn't.


The closing Karlstad was a commission from the Dutch ensemble DASH!. The work's title, rather wonderfully, comes from the name of the IKEA sofa Bumšteinas bought with the payment he received for the commission. Originally conceived as part of a remix project of the DASH! ensemble's existing work, Bumšteinas took a number of samples of the ensemble's vocalists, each of them just snippets of no more than one second of breathing sounds rather than actually intended vocalisations. He blended many of these together into a kind of softly textured base for the work, the resulting sounds then used to pick out certain harmonics, which Bumšteinas then composed a violin and cello part around, the sounds of these added instruments mostly extended swoops rising and falling continually while the vocal sample collage moves from barely audible whisper to mechanically rhythmic pulse. This piece is my least favourite of the three as while a lot of work has clearly gone into it the idea feels simpler and more obvious, descending slightly into a predictably rhythmic pattern a little too much for my taste.


On the whole though, this is a very nice album of quite individual and unusual music, crossing that line between establishment acceptability and a more adventurous experimental edge. The first two pieces in particular impressed a lot, for their subtlety as much as for their invention, and this is the kind of area I think modern classical music can benefit a lot from right now, exploring the ways that modern technology can be combined not only with the traditional sounds of conventional instrumentation but also with the techniques and standardised practices of modern composition. There are many more albums from Bumšteinas out there, I hope to get to hear more as soon as possible. Lovely packaging too. Con-V.


[ Richard Pinnell ]



Just Outside


Intriguingly disconcerting. As the first of three pieces begins ("Multifat" for violin, percussion and chamber orchestra) you're immediately plunged into early John Adams, circa "Shaker Loops", strikingly so. Very similar jaunty, sort of hocketing massed strings in an irregular but repetitive rhythm, underlain by long, deep chords. It's very attractive but, at the same time, kind of odd in its retro character. But then, about halfway through, there's what sounds like backward tape processing, probably the same sound source, mixed among the droning strings and roiling percussion. It's not the most earthshaking of maneuvers, but succeeds in subtly transforming the work into some much more interesting other. It later spreads itself languidly into a soft pool, the drums providing surface ripples; quite nice.


"Studie II" is performed by the Apartment House string quartet with Rhodri Davies on harp. It begins as a lavishly brooding work, dark and romantic (think Bryars, though the idea stems from an analysis of an early Stockhausen work), Davies presumably e-bowing for the most part. The sonorities are enchanting, there are unexpected (and welcome) sour harmonies interspersed as well as unusual pauses where a given line is allowed to linger.


I was a bit apprehensive about the last piece noting the presence of one "DASH!" which I take it is the nom de musique of one Maarten Ornstein [or an ensemble...hard to tell] , but exactly the sort of "nom" that causes serious hesitancy in me. In any case, he's pared here with Tadas Zukauskas on violin and Anton Lukoszevieze on cello and...the result is fairly spectacular. A throbbing, pulsating mix of electronics and aggressive string playing, both rhythmic and dronal that perhaps again harkens to early Adams but has lifted it bodily into 2010. There's a very catchy phased effect going on, derived from taped segments of breathing noise, that beats against the beautiful string lines; again, part of me here's a certain amount of anachronicity here but a larger part doesn't care because it simply sounds so good. Even it's gradual deflation seems appropriate after so much robustness.


Good work; want to hear more from Bumšteinas, who's all of 30 year old.


[ Brian Olewnick ]