Two methods of creation play out on this disc by FURT, the British electronic composition-performance duo of Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer. The track Uranus is a forty-six-minute studio composition developed over a two-year period. In contrast, Curtains, the second track on the CD, is a twenty-six-minute improvisation recorded live and dedicated to the memory of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Both pieces undeniably impress, in part because of the near extrasensory connection that Barrett and Obermayer have developed by playing together since 1986.
Curtains sprawls across the sound field, as thin strident timbres are overlaid with low pulses. Mixed in are faint suggestions of pre-recorded liturgical music, plus samples of funereal drumbeats and piano chording. By the finale, as machine-like jagged textures wave and resonate, a super-quick, cartoon-like melody alternates with triggered stop-start pulses and ring-modulator peals, until a descending, echoing piano arpeggio connects with a ghostly, melancholy cry.
More diffuse than Curtains, and with greater scope for varied exploration, the segmented Uranus offers a dozen different strategies, both acoustic and mechanized. Wooden-sounding plinks and watery pulses share space with discordant episodes of rapidly rotating mechanized chirps, mallet-driven, vibes-like textures, and near-bestial growls. Having time, energy, and liberty, FURT expands the number of paths open to committed electroacoustic experimenters.