Review: Loopool – Notation Improvisations II

Notation Improvisations is a series of works that look to strip habit and intention out of music; to nullify the presence of the composer and leave the music as a free-standing, self-defining entity. The second instalment achieves this in a similar manner to the first: by utilising a computer program used for music notation, with Loopool’s inability to read music leading to a random – or at least, arbitrary – inscription of the notes. But rather than render the hand of its creator invisible, this reviewer found the release to be an enlightening observation of the creator’s struggle to communicate in a language that largely sits beyond his understanding. Where habit and conscious intent can consistently cause the music to fall back into the same shapes, the process behind Notation Improvisations portrays the composer as the dynamic, reactive entity; stripped of behavioural presets that can often forge an ignorance to the variable effects of one’s time, place and sense of well-being.

The music’s “randomness” resides largely within its melodic and harmonic movement. It operates in zig-zags and grisly collisions – sudden changes in direction, indigestible dissonant combinations, stark leaps between high and low pitches. Such a labyrinthine unfolding renders Notation Improvisations unsettling rather than playful, with Loopool’s music-writing ineptitude bringing all manners of the unexpected into animation. But there is undoubtedly conscious thought behind the other aspects of the album’s construction, most notably within the formation of the textures themselves. Where the musical scores themselves may never repeat a phrase, there is a potent consistency within Loopool’s use of dark and ethereal electronic tones, which straddle a mysterious line between the alien and cheap imitatory synthesis (lo-fi woodwind and brass tones). Similarly, rhythm seems to have been pre-determined, with much of the album moving in steady, equidistant strides. Notation Improvisation’s rigid march is in unusual juxtaposition with those notes that tumble between the harmonies of a fist-mashed keyboard to the most unintentionally gorgeous chord constructions, and between the facets of rhythm and melody, Loopool’s persona is thrust (perhaps accidentally) into the light.