INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Gramophone JUNE 2016 - by Donald Rosenberg
CONTACT: DISCREET MUSIC
Contact, the Toronto-based contemporary music ensemble, marks the fortieth anniversary of the release of Brian Eno's ambient Discreet Music with this haunting new version, which comprises seven parts running a total of sixty minutes, or nearly twice the length of the original piece. In an arrangement by Contact founder and percussionist Jerry Pergolesi, Eno's synthesised score is transformed for acoustic instruments: cello, violin, soprano saxophone, electric guitar, double bass, vibraphone, piano, flute and gongs.
Pergolesi's booklet-note says that Eno's "preference was to make plans rather than execute them; to initiate situations and systems that, once in place, could create music with little intervention on his part". The Contact arrangement, in Eno's original key, gives the players some freedom as they shape the simple melodic and harmonic progressions. The result is a weave of undulating and repeated phrases along minimalist lines, with textures evolving slowly and the music unfolding with utmost discretion.
Contact offer a staged version of Discreet Music designed by Pergolesi and performed with video by Suzanne Bocanegra, which would be interesting to experience. The recording makes the listener abundantly aware of Eno's looping technique, inspired by Terry Riley and Steve Reich, and of the need to dispel any assumptions about how music develops. The recording was made in one take, a testament to the powers of concentration and interaction of the seven Contact musicians and their guests, Emma Zoe Elkinson (flute) and Dean Kurtis-Pomeroy (gongs).