A modular chamber ensemble with a pointedly anti-academic approach to music, over the course of its activities - running roughly between 1990 and 2010 - Alter Ego developed a devoted following among some of the most forward thinking voices in experimental music, all the while collaborating widely with artists spanning a vast range of practices and disciplines, including Robin Rimbaud, Philip Jeck, Matmos, Gavin Bryars, Andrew Hooker, William Basinski, David Moss, Alvin Curran, Terry Riley, and near countless number of others.
Alter Ego’s diverse activities can be understood as interventions with the disposition toward formality within contemporary chamber music, often pairing themselves with artists working well beyond their own context as a means to develop highly original interpretations of a specific composer’s work. In 2004, this process led them to instigate a collaboration Pan Sonic, the Finnish duo of Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen, pioneers of a remarkably distinct form of rhythmic, experimental electronic music, and regarded by many as one of the most visionary and irreverent projects working in the field during the '90s and 2000s.
Initially conceived with Fausto Romitelli in 2004 before being sidelined by the composer’s untimely passing the following year, Microwaves acts, in part, a remembrance in sound, featuring four works by some of his closest friends, the composers Atli Ingólfsson, Giovanni Verrando, Yan Maresz, and Riccardo Nova. Each composition, Ingólfsson’s Snap, Verrando’s Harmonic Domains #3, Maresz’s Link, and Nova’s Thirteen13x8@Terror Generating Deity, have roots in a pallet of samples and fragments drawn by each composer from existing works by Pan Sonic. Upon completion, these compositions then entered into a collaborative process between Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen (Pan Sonic) and Alter Ego (Manuel Zurria, Paolo Ravaglia, Aldo Campagnari, Francesco Dillon, Oscar Pizzo, and Eugenio Vatta), and were performed collectively by both groups during an extensive tour that year.
Distinct and free-standing, while operating as a seamless whole, the four works encountered across the album’s two sides - built from the sounds of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, electronics, and further treatments - present an engrossing intersection between electronic and acoustic sound that diverges from most standing conceptions of electroacoustic music. Each composer’s carefully rendered structures rise and fall within the startling, conversant interplay between the two groups, finding perfect balance - between the frenetic and restrained - in what can only be regarded as one of the most striking and singularly unique expressions of contemporary chamber music realized during the 2000s.
Vast in scope, visionary in concept and artistry, and sonically engrossing, Die Schachtel is thrilled to present these never before heard recordings from the archives of Alter Ego. Microwaves is available on black vinyl, in a limited edition of 350 copies.