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Astonishing Sense reviews

"a tour de force in both composition and subject... sumptuous and dynamic sound textures throughout."
Anna Rubin, Computer Music Journal Winter 1999

George Zahora,
Frykberg's compositions inhabit a domain of non-musical electro-acoustics that will be difficult listening for many and downright alarming to some. "Mother Too", for instance, is a fifteen minute narrative pairing voice and tape, in which a singer first questions the loss of her songs, then rediscovers her inner music. The inner music she discovers is of the primal, cathartic variety -- drawn from the heart of her being, its concessions are to emotional expression rather than any poppish musical aesthetic. "Insect Life" challenges the listener's ability to connect with nature -- vocalist DB Boyko's keening song is woven into the proto-speech patterns of frogs and insects, and Frykberg's goal is to share the epiphany of her sudden awareness of perspective within the ecosystem. The next few pieces deal, in differing ways and degrees, with the birth process. "Birth/Rebirth Bearing Me" transforms Frykberg's spoken voice into a gradual, structural representation of birth, with the intact spoken phrase as its completion. And then there are the three tracks that make up the Audio Birth Project. "Margaret" takes interview-style voice material from Frykberg's sister and combines it with ambient background material (including womb-like water sounds). "Astonishing Sense..." is an utterly confrontational work of violin and tape -- I don't know if it's intended as a sonic mirror of the physical sensations of birth, but its frenetic sounds will certainly get your heart racing in short order. "I Didn't Think Much About it" pairs tape of Frykberg's mother (discussing, again, birth) with manipulated sounds and Andrew Czink's elegant piano. All are tremendously powerful, in different ways. "Sue and Kathy Telecompose Across the Country," an internet-born composition/narrative from the bandwidth Dark Ages, rounds out the disc most entertainingly with a host of computer and human-based sounds. There simply isn't enough space here to adequately address the merits of Astonishing Sense -- I encourage you to try it for yourself.

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