Review: The Troubled Belief Program – Standing Forever at the Front Door (self-released, Sep 1)

Edited and mixed earlier this year by Jim Lemanowicz (an artist, improviser, and curator from Massapequa, NY, whose sparing musical presence on the internet seems to spread like a thin spiderweb out from the Troubled Belief Program Quartet page), the recordings that would eventually comprise Standing Forever at the Front Door were begun more than a decade ago in 2008, then revisited in 2017 and 2018. Though the digital liner notes do not hide the fact that the original chamber abstractions were spliced together in Ableton rather than simply presented as-is, the resulting music ends up mining something from both sides of its ambiguous form and character, retaining plenty of the instantaneous, interactive energy that can only flow between musicians performing simultaneously yet gaining new flexibility from the meta-alterations executed later. Other than Lemanowicz, the three remaining string players are Ralph Dar, Emily Fulton, and Joachim Kovač, none of whom appear to have participated in any other releases despite the clear virtuosity of their collective technique implying seasoned careers; I have no idea who “GF” is or what tragedy would prompt a loved one to state that they “didn’t have to die”; nor do I much of any inkling of the reason for this material finally being released now. But little to none of that matters, because even words themselves lose their footing during moments like the drift of the rhythmic legato dirge that surfaces behind the thorny tangle of Bradfield-scrabble and atonal arco squawks in “Not Ready to Be Unwrapped.” Listen!