Lea Bertucci - A Visible Length Of Light
Channeling temperaments of dislocation and wanderlust, filtered through impressions of distinctly American landscapes—coasts, cities, prairie—and the sonic material of everyday experience, defamiliarized by crisis, the New York based composer and multi-instrumentalist, Lea Bertucci, delivers A Visible Length Of Light. Conceived across much of 2020, A Visible Length is the product of real-time reactions to, and reflections upon, the instability of the year, distilled into a series of prescient auditory typographies that shimmer with life and hope. Recorded at Bertucci’s home in New York City and in Omaha, Nebraska, during her residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, A Visible Length Of Light comprises seven condensed works—deploying bass clarinet, alto sax, manipulated tape, organ, a venu wooden flute, and field recordings made in places as wide-ranging as Rio de Janeiro, the California coast, and Dead Horse Bay—surrounded by four “Refrains”—brief, minimal segments that capture Bertucci improvising, via whispers of flute, with the sounds upfolding outside her apartment. Foregoing the long-form compositional approach that has marked her previous albums, it emerges as one of her most pointedly melodic, harmonically rich, and structurally distinct efforts to date. Laced with subtle nods to Bertucci’s long-standing immersion in early 20th century American traditional music (folk, bluegrass, jazz, and gospel), vast washes of spatial ambience, long-tones, pointillistic texture, and delicate interplay, weave an abstract vision of place in the face of displacement—what the composer describes as “the feeling of physically inhabiting a space, when the relationship to that space has become overwhelming, and provokes the desire to seek truth, transcendence, and moments of comfort, disquiet and catharsis through confusion” —that doubles as an intimate contemplation of collective experience and what it means to be American during turbulent times. Indulging beauty, while simultaneously challenging notions of what that might be, fleeting impressions of emptied city streets in the midst of lockdowns and the overwhelming sprawl of the American midwest, merge with tense, aural metaphors for the necessary social unrest that has underscored their disarming quiet over the last year. A balm for the feelings of isolation that have come to inform our lives, A Visible Length Of Light represents another remarkable advance in the career of one of the United States’ most noteworthy contemporary experimental composers.