Fred Lonberg-Holm | Lisbon Solo
Since decamping from Chicago to Kingston a few years ago, cellist/composer/improviser Fred Lonberg-Holm has made an immeasurable contribution to the Hudson Valley's burgeoning experimental music community. With a discography now entering its fourth decade and scarcely encompassing his remarkably diverse background—one that includes studies with Anthony Braxton and Morton Feldman; performances with such improbably dissimilar artists as Wilco, Anthony Coleman, the Styrenes, and local colossus Joe McPhee; and a distinguished oeuvre of compositions performed by the cream of classical New Music instrumentalists—he also created, alongside bassist Michael Bisio, the monthly "The Moment" series at the Beverly Lounge, arguably the region's finest and most risk-taking avant-garde music series. For this new cassette/download release on Kingston's Notice Recordings, Lonberg-Holm manifests not just his virtuoso musicianship across many untraditional (and some markedly traditional) expressions, but an improvisational concept as rigorous as it is daring.
Within the first 60 seconds of the untitled opening track, Lonberg-Holm demonstrates his mastery of extended techniques, including dramatic arco and col legno textures, tapped ostinati, and stark pizzicato melodies. He is credited on the second and other tracks with "unprepared piano," and I suspect the piano was as unprepared for these startling keyboard excursions receiving comparably metamorphic treatments as I was. These piano pieces highlight the uncontrived, elemental rhythmic dynamism driving his playing, as well as a fearless, Feldman-esque use of sudden, extended silences as imposing structural elements. By no means easy listening, Lisbon Solo is a feast of boundary-pushing sonic adventure and a spellbinding showcase for this one-of-a-kind musician.