For the millennia following the moment when one of our ancestors hollowed out a few holes on an animal bone to make from it something akin to a flute. and from the instant when another ancestor stretched an animal skin on a frame made of twigs to fashion a tam-tam out of it, humankind has been creating the myriad systems of organized sound that we have come to call music.

Whatever sounds appeal to you and not to others is all part of the game of music making and you are certainly welcome to call whatever it is you enjoy listening to music, even if your fellow human doesn’t share your viewpoint or enthusiasm.

It was with curiosity and no small measure of admiration that this listener sat down to listen to ILTA, the fascinating NEUMA recording of duets for flute – make that plural: flutes – and percussion.

The title of the recording, Ilta – Finnish for evening – evokes moods of reflective calm, introspection, and even child-like playfulness, brought out by the peerless flutist Stephanie Abderhalden, whose nimbly musical playing of the entire flute family – ranging upward to the piccolo and from there to the standard flute, the alto  flute, and to the grandmotherly sound  of the contrabass flute – gives the music in this CD an added dimension of dulcet lyricism.

Kyle Flens proves himself a musical chameleon for all seasons, commanding the use of gently played gongs, cymbals, crotales, glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba, bongos, tom-toms, bass drums, and cowbells at the service of the works of David Maki, Iannis Xenakis, Robert Fleisher, and Robert Honstein.

In communities where new music is sadly absent, the recorded works of NEUMA, help quench the thirst for the unusual and allay the appetite for compositions outside the beaten-to-death path of most musical organizations.

The elegantly simple packaging of the album by NEUMA’s Philip Blackburn, the impeccable up-close editing of Bruce Mahin, and the mastering of Erdem Helvacioglu come together to create a terrific album of music to dream by.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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