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A Loose Grip on Reality

by Brian Abbott

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Wind-Up 11:50
Fata Morgana 12:34


Track Listing:
1. Trickster Makes This World (dedicated to Bianca Joao)
2. Don’t Cross the Beanfield (dedicated to Manuel Morales)
3. Wind-Up (dedicated to Ted Phillips)
4. Fata Morgana (dedicated to Naomi McCarroll-Butler)

This is a record of hyper-real, microtonal music. It was born from a mix of frustration and curiosity. As my interest in microtonal music steadily grew, it became a larger part of my compositional and improvisational output. But I already had enough trouble getting my “normal” music performed, and the prospects of moving my more ambitious music forward were looking bleak.
Many microtonal composers have turned to electronically realizing their works for just this reason. At first I was too attached to the intensity, unpredictability, and communion of live performance, but when the pandemic hit, I finally cracked and turned my back (at least briefly) on attempting to get human beings to perform my music.
However, making only electronic versions of my microtonal works wasn’t satisfying, so I decided to write music that would purposely be unplayable by humans even if anyone was crazy enough to try. I borrowed the idea of making electronic music that sounded acoustic yet unplayable from part of the definition given by composer, Noah Creshevsky, for hyper-real music. Other composers such as Kyle Gann, Paul Dolden, and Conlon Nancarrow might also come to mind in this little-explored musical zone. Setting myself new musical challenges was incredibly fulfilling and it ended up kicking open doors to unforeseen areas that I am excited to continue mining in future works.
Although unplayable, I consider the music on this album to be quite accessible. Most of the music is not obviously virtuosic. Much of the complexity that makes the music unplayable is not in the foreground. One need not wear their avant-gardism on their sleeve. I’m sure most non-musicians would not even notice these aren’t real instruments they are hearing. All philosophical and technical discussions aside, I was aiming for beauty with this music. The listener can judge my level of success.


released February 1, 2023

All music composed, assembled, produced, and mixed by Brian Abbott.
Mastered by Kevin Frenette at Abrasive Chair Music, Randolph, MA.
Album art by {AN} Eel

Thank You: Redshift Records for releasing this album, Kevin Frenette for doing a great job mastering, Neal Retke for dealing with my absurd album art demands, Ted Phillips for mixing suggestions, Kyle Gann for introducing me to Pianoteq and showing me a path forward, and to my friends who kept me sane during the pandemic while everything came crashing down around me.


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Redshift Music Vancouver, British Columbia

Redshift was founded in Vancouver, Canada with a focus on championing the music of contemporary composers.

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