Standing Wave has a been a fixture on Vancouver’s new-music scene since 1991, exploring a wide variety of aesthetics commensurate with the varied backgrounds of its members. Liquid States, the ensemble’s third CD, documents four recent commissioned works for the ensemble.
Jeffrey Ryan’s Burn alternates between slow, introverted—albeit colourful—melodicism and a slightly familiar-sounding uptempo jauntiness clearly indebted to American postminimalism. Its imaginative orchestration and bold harmonic profile, though, are quite strong, leading the ear away from the work’s more derivative traits.
Jocelyn Morlock’s Theft follows with similarly contrasting thematic ideas. Its first section opens with a weightlessness recalling later-period Feldman, but becomes more extroverted and agitated, culminating in downward cascades of notes before calming again. The second section is vigorous yet uncertain-sounding in its pulse—juggling jagged light fragments of material amidst some thicker, darker-hued sounds.
Rodney Sharman’s transcriptions of threee William Byrd pieces—Pavane, Galliard, and Variations—are far more than faithful reproductions. Maintaining Byrd’s poised quirkiness, Sharman’s revisionist orchestration inflects the source with fugitive tone colours, thin crusts of noise, shimmering microtonal details, and eruptions of tangled melody. Sharman’s treatments are reverent yet inventive.
Linda Bouchard’s contribution, the title track, employs a propulsive, rockist rhythmic energy, yet sheds much of the baggage associated with those gestures within a concert-music setting. Full of sibilant attacks and blended clangour, its marriage of drive and full-spectrum instrumental colour pose a very intriguing blend.

While the latter half of the CD tends to grab the ears just a little more, this is an exciting and very listenable recording from a solid and savvy ensemble interpreting the works of four notable composers.