Larry Kucharz (1946) is an electronic musician at the border between space and ambient
Unit 22: Red Motion collects computer works.
Unit 23 (International Audiochrome, 1991) collects his earliest
minimalist compositions, dating as far back as 1975. The influence of
Steve Reich and the likes is still strong, but the frenzy of No 7 (1987),,
the bobbing No 4 (1986), the harsh No 4 (1990),
the metallic No 9 (1988),
the throbbing and almost danceable No 2 (1989)
signaled an original (and somewhat neurotic) take on the cliches, with a
preference for timbres that approach the busy signal of the telephone;
whereas No 3A (1976) ventured into ambient music.
Harmonic Luminosity (International Audiochrome, 1993) and especially
Metachoral Visions (International Audiochrome, 1997) and
Electrochoral Dreams (1998)
emphasized the "ambient" element but in different contexts.
Harmonic Luminosity (International Audiochrome, 1993) collects
works composed between 1976 and 1992.
Ethereal Proportions No 7A (1976) and Luminous Prewcession No 11A (1977)
are experiments in populating the
void with droning clusters of tones, separated by long pauses.
Radiant 1987 (1987) and Radial Velocity No 6 (1983) are
further pieces in the vein of his early polyrhythmic minimalism.
With the cosmic music of Cosmology No 9 (1992),
Celestial Mechanics No 1 (1992) and
Lyrids No 8 (1992) Kucharz ventured into the "choral" minimalism that would become his specialty.
Metachoral Visions (International Audiochrome, 1997) is inspired to the
baroque format of the "chorale". Each of the ten tracks is a computer-generated choral. Liquescence is a brief demonstration of the technique: it is simply a series of vocal drones that float one on top of the other.
The 12-minute Phrygia creates a more complex texture: a choir is sustained for a while, then replaced by or coupled with another one in an abrupt manner.
The 13-minute Ars Nova is a more abstract exercise in tones that slowly assume the semblance of human voices.
Organa is even more unstable, with frequent pauses deconstructing the emotional tension.
The 13-minute Ars Antiqua, perhaps the most dramatic track, increases the
density and the pace of the choral voices, achieving an almost symphonic effect and an angst-ridden tone, at times reminiscent of Luigi Nono's electronic operas.
The 10-minute Lux Aeternam has a more peaceful, resigned development, like a requiem imbued with new-age ecstasy.
The same direction is pursued on
DigiChoral Blue Portraits,
ComputerChoral Green Prints
ambient and fugal works ambient counterpoint
He also experimented with
techno, dub, house, drum'n'bass on
Techno Unit 30, Techno Unit 32 and Techno Unit 34
Blue Motion (International Audiochrome, 1999), credited to Unit 28,
and Dark Red (International Audiochrome, 1998), credited to Unit 25,
including the lengthy Dark Crimson,
merge minimalism, neo-classical and computer music.
Ambient Blue Washes (2002) began a new series, in a less cerebral and more relaxed vein, explicitly grounded in the concept of color. Each translucent
tapestry evokes Mark Rothko's paintings. The blue CD is relatively sophisticated
and brainy. The tracks do not seem to have a center of mass, nor to have
emotional depth. They drift aimlessly and eventually disappear.
Ambient Red Washes (International Audiochrome, 2003) is a more focused
effort. Its tracks introduce stronger elements of melody and of melancholy,
from the celestial Red Wash No 2, resembling a choral humming,
to the wavering and tinkling Red Wash No 4,
from the vibrant romanticism of Red Wash No 3
to the lugubrious Red Wash No 6.
In general, the pieces titled Red Wash are more lively and (color-wise)
darker than the pieces titled after the year 1993.
But the latter sound more ambitious and accomplished.
1993 No 10 is one of the best constructions: slow waves of majestic drones create a sense of humble grandeur, with melodies rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, as if the lattice of spacetime overflowed with shimmering visions of paradise. 1993 No 2 sounds like a toned-down remix of the previous track, and the effect is to elicit memories of the baroque adagio.
Another subtle variation on the same theme, the painfully slow
1993 No 4 leans towards Eno's Music For Airports but adding a
quality of "distance", as if its notes were coming from a far galaxy.
The album's main drawback, that makes it far less essential than Kucharz's
artistic peak, Metachoral Visions, is a certain tendency to rely on
cliches and to repeat himself.
Bridge Mix 37 (International Audiochrome, 2005), a "yellow" CD,
contains eleven tracks that have little to do with Kucharz's ambient direction.
They are mostly exuberant, pulsing dance tracks:
Dream 37, the clownish Street 37 and Beat 37 (the marriage
of the dancefloor and the musichall),
the robotic and syncopated Mood 37,
the violently disjointed Unfunky 37,
the hypnotic, industrial, slippery Suite 37 (perhaps the stand-out),
the hip-hoppish Precinct 37.
Kucharz is too shy to use the piano more often. That instrument creates
an intriguing counterpoint to the electronic beats. For example,
the chaotic Highway 37 lays down
an ascending current of electronics that is punctured by cacophonic cascades
of piano notes.
Location 37 is tickled by a pseudo-melody made of rapid-fire piano notes.
These two works well represent Kucharz's schizophrenic persona: the ambient
composer and the disco entertainer. The future may well lie in between.
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