Music has an ephemeral quality that makes it experientially real only in the present. For instance, once music has passed it becomes a cherished memory that no one can hope to experience like he or she did in the present, now in the rear view mirror of the past. Eric Dolphy described the experience: “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone in the air. You can never capture it again.” He was, of course, describing the music he made with acoustic instruments, the sound of which had a shorter finite value than electronic instruments, the sound (on) which can also be made to last much longer thanks to technology. Svjetlana Bukvich has made this happen in a manner so memorable that you not only enjoy the beauty of sound of her music in the present, but somehow can also enjoy the memory of it once it has passed. And that too is an essential attribute of Extension, a quite magical series on an album of the same name.
Miss Bukvich, it seems, was probably feeling the same way about music as Mr Dolphy and grappling with the consequences of ephemera. But casting an eye on the sister art of dance, she learned how the “action of moving a limb from a bent to a straight position” (or vice versa) could prolong the beauteous visage of dance. Then imagining how this might work, she applied it to this music which unfolds in the same kind of interminable manner in which a dancer might pirouette, extend a limb and then leap into space taking forever to land on that extended limb. Being able to transcribe that experience to the music of her (own) heart and mind takes some ingenuity; something that Miss Bukvich has in spades.
There is something else that Miss Bukvich has and that is a deep connection with her interior landscape. This is clear from the emotive evocation of this music. Although broadly speaking this is music that seeks to prolong the sensualist experience of it, there is an internal aspect to this music. It runs deep and you don’t have to look very far to find it. It is right there in “Once You Are Not a Stranger” – all three versions of the composition, in “Graves” and in “Nema Te”. All three works can be looked at as an artistic response to overcoming or crossing the “threshold of pain”. The musical concept is as interesting as the still elusive scientific one – being the examination of the feeling of pain when applied to the body and the experience of it internally.
The songs (mentioned above) seem to question and examine profoundly existential experiences of pain. In “Once You Are Not…” the aftermath of loneliness; in “Nema Te” the inescapability of it and in “Graves” its finality. All three pieces are deeply reflective and extraordinarily beautiful. Of course, all is not doom and gloom on this recording. The extension of the limbs of the imaginary dancer may be experienced in the graceful ascension of “Stairs”, the flighty “Tattoo”; in the majesty of “The Beginning” and in the hopefully atmospheric beauty of “Utopia”. Wherever we approach the music of this disc we will find that Miss Bukvich is a composer who is a true musical Epicurean, but whose sound of music is not only prolonged in the sensualist realm but also arouses in us a feeling of hope that is quite palpable.
Track list and Personnel – 1: The Beginning – Susan Aquila: electric violin-Viper; Svjetlana Bukvich: voice, zither, electronic sound and SFX design; David Rozenblatt: percussion; 2: Utopia – Philip Hamilton: voice; Susan Aquila: violin; Jacqueline Kerrod: electric harp; Svjetlana Bukvich: piano; Patrick Derivaz: electric bass; Wylie Wirth: drums; 3: Extension – Kamala Sankaram: mezzo-soprano; Samille Ganges: contralto; Svjetlana Bukvich: synthesizers, tuning design and SFX design; 4: Once You Are Not a Stranger – ETHEL String Quartet – Kip Jones: violin; Corin Lee: violin; Ralph Farris: viola; Dorothy Lawson: cello; Patrick Derivaz: electric bass; Svjetlana Bukvich: electric sound; 5: Graves – Philip Hamilton: voice; Jacqueline Kerrod: electric harp; Nikola Radan: alto flute; Richard Viard: acoustic guitar; Svjetlana Bukvich: piano and electric sound; Wylie Wirth: drums; 6: Tattoo – Kamala Sankaram: mezzo-soprano; Svjetlana Bukvich: piano, electronic sound and lyrics; 7: Stairs – Raquel Saphra: cello; Joseph Brock: contrabass; Svjetlana Bukvich: Moog synthesizer, electronic sound and EFX design; 8: Once You Are Not a Stranger (vocal) – Janis Brenner: voice; Svjetlana Bukvich: piano, voice and lyrics; Patrick Derivaz: electric bass; 9: Nema Te (You Aren’t Here, You Aren’t There) – Jane Manning: soprano; Bojan Gorišek: piano; Kamala Sankaram: mezzo-soprano; Svjetlana Bukvich: synthesizers, SFX design and lyrics; 10: Once You Are Not a Stranger (reprise) – Shattered-Glass String Orchestra – Patrick Derivaz: electric bass; Svjetlana Bukvich: electronic sound
Released – 2020
Label – Navona Records (NV6276)
Runtime – 43:12