The use of the word “mixtape” in the title of this release is no coincidence. New York City based composer and performer Patrick Higgins has appointed NNA with a highly original concept in the presentation of New Music – a “mix” or sampling of personal experimentations spanning from 2009 to the present day, intended specifically for the cassette format. Higgins, perhaps best known for his guitar work in avant-garde music group Zs and production work with Future-Past Studios, is able to accurately demonstrate his versatility as both a composer and performer through this diverse collection of recording studies. Very little territory is left uncharted as Higgins makes use of piano, harpsichord, synthesizer, guitar, violin, sampler, computer processing, and even group ensemble to communicate his unique musical vision. Bringing a genuinely modern voice to composition, the artist draws on contemporary pop culture influence (underground art rock, independent pop, noise) along with nods to 60’s minimalism (Riley, Glass, Meredith Monk) and classical Western electro-acoustic composition. The studies on this release range from the highly dissonant to the more consonant as Higgins blends found sound and electro-acoustic texture with harmonic notes, creating further originality by combining elements of improvisation with written score. Pieces like “Pattern Select” blast apart with pointillistic, colorful synth programming that builds its power through the precise use of dissonance, recalling the work of Babbitt, Boulez, and the French pioneers of early musique concrete. The “Curves, Points, Lines” series of tracks demonstrates the inventive studio layering of unorthodox acoustic instrument sounds, as Higgins dissects the intricacies of the various sounds made by the violin and rearranges them into something completely new. “Live At Oberlin” brings the music outside of the studio into the arena of performance, as Higgins lends his abilities to a group improvisation setting, using guitar and laptop to build new sonic worlds together with the Mivos Quartet on string instruments. “Social Death Mixtape” succeeds at showcasing Higgins’ prowess not only as a musician, but as a generally well-rounded artist, whether its as a composer and arranger, instrumentalist, live performer, electronic producer, or studio engineer. The experience of this release is further enhanced by the originality of creating an “audio sketchbook” for the modern composer by tapping into one of the earliest and most classical essences of the cassette tape medium – the “mix.”
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