New Cartography

New Cartography

Transmissions and navigations
Peter Van Zandt Lane
MOD[ular] Ensemble
Atlanta Chamber Players
Equilibirum Ensemble
Subaerial Collective
Catalog Number: 
#1 017
new classical

Athens, GA

Release Date: 
Nov 15, 2019
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Sonar pulses. Inventing the chronometer. Rotating gears. Vibrating machines. 

These are the inspirations behind the chamber works on Peter Van Zandt Lane’s New Cartography. Boasting an illustrious roster of decorated performers, Lane’s second album with Innova highlights what the American Academy of Arts and Letters describes as “driving rhythms, bold harmonic gestures, and whimsical melodies… Lane’s music is as inviting as it is sophisticated.”

The opening track begins with a frenetic burst of energy, with electronic pulses entwined with the unique instrumentation of Mod[ular] Ensemble in a musical exploration of the title, /ping/: an IP network utility; a sonar pulse; and the onomatopoeia. Weaving lyrical patterns give way to angular, rocking outbursts. The quintet hits call-bells to signal virtuosic solos interspersed throughout the piece until they find connectivity, culminating in a lush texture of oscillating harmonies and fluttering electronics. 

Reaching further into the technological past, Piano Quartet: The Longitude Problem finds its inspiration in 18th century maritime navigation. Before John Harrison’s invention of the marine chronometer, navigation and maps were all over the place. The device opened up a new way to determine longitude: clockwork-precision making sense of the incalculable sea. 

The album’s title track, New Cartography, Lane relishes just such opposing pathways, pitting rigid clockwork against free lyricism in a surprising finale to Piano Quartet that both celebrates the Age of Discovery and mourns colonialism. Composed while in-residence at Aaron Copland’s house historic home, this piece sets Lane’s fascination with rhythmic process to a more sentimental sound world, brought to life by the exquisite musicianship of the Atlanta Chamber Players.

Reimagining the condensed symphonic form of the 20th century through sonic invocations of kinetic motion and mechanical gestures, Chamber Symphony is densely packed with interconnections and absorbing complexities. A dynamic and compositionally ambitious tour de force, the recording brings out the virtuosity of Boston-based supergroup Equilibrium Ensemble, lead by conductor and percussionist Matt Sharrock.

Closing the album, /chatter/ is an irreverent interchange of interlocking rhythmic cycles and sailing electroacoustic melodic fragments over thumping grooves. The trio of composers (including Lane on bassoon) weave together improvisation and rhythmic patterns in a piece that traverses the chattering of voices and vibrating of machinery. 

Lane’s first release with Innova Recordings was HackPolitik (2014, Innova #892), the electroacoustic chamber ballet described as “refreshingly relevant” by the New York Times and “angular, jarring, and sophisticated” by the Boston Musical Intelligencer. With only minimal electronics in the opening and closing tracks, New Cartography brings acoustic instruments into to the foreground, but is every bit as preoccupied with how technological ideas can reshape classical traditions and forms. 

Peter Van Zandt Lane is a composer with a particular focus on music for wind ensemble, chamber ensembles, electroacoustic music and music for dance. Recipient of the 2018 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Lane is on the composition faculty of the University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson School of Music where he also acts as Director of the Roger and Phyllis Dancz Center for New Music.