Towards the end of last year and at present, during the beginning of this one, Adam Cuthbért has been busy: in addition to his ongoing involvements with the Bang on a Can and the Sight/Sound festivals and now also another, called Prototype, which, its first edition premiering just this month, is dedicated to the newest wave of experimental operatic and musicotheatrical works, he has posted a number of tracks on his Soundcloud page, and these new compositions are as beautiful as their predecessors while being longer than they are – which may be a significant development – and also rather more dramatic in the expectations both raised and deferred by their crescendoes of tension – which could perhaps suggest that the kinds of music that are the mainstay of this third festival he’s now working on, might in turn be influencing his.
However, to avoid the question of influence and its uncertainties, and to remain with the music itself: the first of the two recent tracks, “No Hipster Hats,” is built upon the modulation of repetitions, the principle of structure that one knows from minimal music, which here forms a basis or indeed a stage on which a variety of sonic elements are introduced and pass by, notable amongst them several sharp and nearly industrial drones that at times sound like they came from an electric guitar to begin with, at others, from a trumpet; and by their cumulative effect the drama of this music intensifies more and more, with the last couple of minutes of Cuthbért’s piece constituting an extended climactic scene in which every moment counts and carries its own weight – it sounds as though not a single one is wasted.
Without further ado, then, “No Hipster Hats.”
Even more recently, Cuthbért posted the result of a long-distance collaboration between himself and his friend Daniel Rhode, “Dropbox Bass Drop” – the title calls to mind the fact that in the absence of the Internet, this mode of musical exchange, proceeding with some speed through its several phases (which are outlined humorously in the remarks appended to the track), would scarcely be feasible; and while listening to the sombre texture of this track, which is composed as it were in a minor key, at least in comparison to “No Hipster Hats,” one might well encounter the thought that what the Internet has given, or has been given, could also be taken away. Then, if this is so, one perhaps ought to note that the mood here is not particularly elegiac but resonates instead like an epitaph.
(In the aforementioned remarks, the ultimate stage in Cuthbért and Rhode’s process of collaborative composition is said to be this: “Give the music back to the internet, because the internet enabled you to make the music” – a thought-provoking sentence which, if one stares at it for a while, may begin to radiate something of the attitude that, ethically or even metaphysically or ontologically, informs the life of the generations who know the technologies of the Internet like the back of their own hands.)
Here is “Dropbox Bass Drop.”
N.B. Contrary to what I stated in my text about Daniel Rhode, he has completed his university studies: currently Rhode is a resident of Grand Rapids, where, apart from concentrating on his own work, he earns a living as a music teacher.