[reviews] afe089lcd
edward ruchalski: territorial objects

musique machine []
webzine, u.k., january 2008

Edward Ruchalski is an American composer, based out of Syracuse, New York, who creates innovative, experimental music in various forms. Perhaps his best known works are his compositions for motorized percussion and string instruments. Over the years, he has quietly gained respect as an artist, yet he remains almost criminally unacknowledged.

"Territorial Objects" spans roughly 45 minutes and includes 13 unnamed pieces. According to the liner notes, the raw materials for the album include recordings of percussionist Michael Burton "standing in Butternut Creek, playing cymbals, bells and artillery casings, sometimes using the water to vary the pitch of a cymbal or casing".

Other sources referenced are Ruchalski and Burton improvising on drums and cymbals, as well as Matt Broad on tin whistle, field recordings, bells, guitar, toy piano, recordings of motor instruments and samples from two old keyboard compositions. This seemingly exhaustive list of sources is manipulated via computer to create the pieces presented here.

The method of rearranging and manipulating samples has because somewhat commonplace these days. Ruchalski separates himself from the average laptop practitioner, because of his ability as a composer. These pieces have the clarity and pacing of a narrative.

The album as a whole reads as story with a beginning, middle, and end. The music changes as it goes. Cymbals are stretched to background drones at times, overlaid with clanking percussion. The mechanical elements are so tastefully employed that the field recordings blend perfectly, not sounding forced.

"Territorial Objects" is a complex work, in that there are many sounds and ideas explored in each piece, yet it isn't weighty or unweildy. It's a journey well worth taking.

In what seems to be a standard for the excellent Afe label, the CD-R comes in a beautifully photographed wallet sleeve, and is limited to a paltry 100 copies.

[Erwin Michelfelder]