If you’ve spent any appreciable amount of time navigating the New York City new music scene over the last several years, you almost certainly have encountered Michael Vincent Waller, a gifted young composer and an energetic, committed concert presenter. Waller, who counts among his illustrious teachers La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and Bunita Marcus, will release his second full-length album, Trajectories, this Friday, Sept. 8, on composer/performer Sean McCann’s Recital label. Available in CD, vinyl, and download formats, the album features performances by two invaluable new-music luminaries, pianist R. Andrew Lee and cellist Seth Parker Woods.
To preview the arrival of Waller’s album, we’re privileged to share a new video created by Richard Garet for one of its featured compositions: the cello-and-piano duet Lines.
Waller – a self-described late starter who took up composition at age 19 – set out on his creative path as an experimentalist working with microtonality, just intonation, and electroacoustic techniques, while also investigating aspects of medieval and renaissance music, raga, gamelan, gagaku, and jazz. But the style for which Waller has become best known, heard in Lines and throughout Trajectories, is a mode of contemplative post-minimalist simplicity reminiscent of Satie.
“Once I became compelled to write music that I truly wanted to hear, I felt liberated to side-step camps of stylistic agenda or cult-collective,” Waller said of his artistic evolution in an interview posted by the webzine 15 Questions. “It is during these moments, of being alone with one’s self in the universe, when the most profound things can emerge.”
Writing about Lines in his program notes for Trajectories, the pianist and composer “Blue” Gene Tyranny deftly describes the work’s impact:
The harmonies evolve primarily through re-voicing, the same notes in different combinations that accompany the lyrical, ever-searching melody much like a person expressing themselves in the same tone of voice while evolving through slightly modulating emotions. The “lines” in this lightly romantic work thus seem to emote from a single person who goes through subtle emotional changes.
Garet, a video artist whose work involves color-field abstraction and media saturation, responded to Lines with dreamy permutations of familiar vistas.
In this situation the artist embraced the scape scenery toward making the spectator the traveler and protagonist. The footage itself was transformed into a painterly quality that opens itself up to imagination and playfulness in dialog with the music. Garet’s Untitled (frame composition), 2017 deconstructs all sources of the piece and then reestablishes new structures where the architecture of the work is by conclusion a frame by frame treatment, arrangement, and consideration.
Trajectories is available to order now via the Bandcamp player above. Waller, Lee, and Woods are celebrating the album’s arrival with a series of performances, including concerts at MiMoDa Studio, Los Angeles, CA (Sept. 6); Santa Monica Public Library, Santa Monica, CA (Sept. 7); and Constellation, Chicago, IL (Sept. 24)