New York reedist and sound artist Lea Bertucci explores the acoustic properties of physical spaces | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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New York reedist and sound artist Lea Bertucci explores the acoustic properties of physical spaces

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I first encountered Lea Bertucci’s music when she was playing bass clarinet on the 2014 album L’Onde Souterraine (Telegraph Harp), a series of visceral yet meditative duet improvisations with cellist Leila Bordreuil. The music she’s released since then has revealed a broad and fascinating artistic practice often focused on the acoustics of specific spaces. “Cepheid Variations,” the first of two tracks on her terrific All That Is Solid Melts Into Air (NNA Tapes), was composed for Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room, and features Bordreuil and violist Jeanann Dara, who play striated, long tones rich in ghostly harmonics that Bertucci processes into a haunting collision of overtones and reverberation. More salient to her research in acoustics is the second piece, “Double Bass Crossfade,” which starts with James Ilgenfritz and Sean Ali positioned in opposite corners of a 50,000-square-foot space with wirelessly amplified double basses, playing bowed long tones that toy with heavy vibrato and then none at all. Over the course of the 30-minute piece, they slowly move toward one another while playing inverse parts, then switch parts and continue till they each reach the other’s starting position. Naturally, a stereo recording can’t convey what a live performance can reveal, which is why I’m excited to experience Bertucci in concert. This weekend she’ll be playing work from a forthcoming solo album, due next year from NNA Tapes. As yet untitled, it features field recordings from places such as Mayan pyramids and forgotten urban beaches, and alto saxophone in pulsing minimalist figures, overblown drones, and upper register squalls (sometimes looped and overdubbed) that spill and corrode in waves of overtones, microtones, and psychoacoustic effects. This combination creates fascinating conversations between what she plays acoustically and how it fills a particular space.   v

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