Review: Marco Colonna – The Second Coming (Plus Timbre, May 13)

Last year, clarinetist Marco Colonna’s previous release on Plus Timbre, FORAMINIFERA, stunned me with its visceral explorations of extended techniques and the versatility of the player’s breath. Though The Second Coming continues Colonna’s delightful subversion of woodwind conventions, the forceful valve clacks and almost painful-sounding failed exhales are replaced by an approach that is quieter but no less unique. The most musical The Second Coming gets is probably in its opening track “Under Pressure,” a series of dainty, nearly melodic flurries that only hint at the affecting physicality that will come later. The artist approaches the clarinet a bit more delicately this time around, his breaths yielding unusual timbres due to their weakness rather than a blustering strength. Tracks like “Dust” and “Inside” delve into an uneasy balance between the presence and absence of actual notes; the tonal elements sometimes trade off with the airy noises of whispered breath, and other times share space in a volatile amalgam. Other pieces are much more abstract, with almost granular textures emerging on “Subinterference” and a percussive conversation between lever presses and rattling blows materializing in “Masque.” Though the introductory text on the album page makes it sound a bit more, erm, intimidating, The Second Coming is another humble and intimate sound adventure from Marco Colonna.