Phantom Images

Phantom Images

Huddersfield Contemporary Records
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Phantom Images celebrates the intertwining of improvisation and electronics. Its four tracks present innovative approaches to instruments, novel deployment of electronic processing, and what might be the strangest ‘orchestra’ ever recorded. The album is at times serious, at times chaotic, at times sinister, but the underlying character is one of ‘play’: adventure, joy, exchange, even a certain mischievousness.

Katherine Young is one of the leading voices of her generation, a composer whose work often defies categorisation, floating between the worlds of performance, technology, composition and installation. Here we see her at her most spare and unadorned – a bassoon and a collection of effects pedals – but from that setup she conjures and unexpected fluttering, sputtering, clicking landscape, overlaid with trumpet-like fanfares and wincing cries. Chris Mercer, likewise, is an artist whose work is difficult to pigeonhole, shifting between acoustic ecology, invented instruments, and interactive technologies. But here Mercer has written…an orchestra piece. But this is no ordinary orchestra piece. Mercer plays all 46 instruments, and as a result this orchestra can do things that orchestras shouldn’t be able to do. Cellos spontaneously morph into clarinets. Brass instruments sprout their own woodwind doublings. Brass players seem equipped with an enormous array of mutes and plungers. Pianos move seamlessly between sixth-tones and quarter-tones as though the instruments were being retuned mid-performance.

The third track features Charmaine Lee, an extraordinary improvising vocalist whose unique soundworld is both augmented and lacerated through her partnership with Sam Pluta, one of the most inventive, original, and well-respected improvisers working in electronic music. Their contributions are twisted and entangled, flipping between vocal and instrumental, analog and digital, ‘real’ and ‘processed’, flamboyant and intimate. Finally, Aaron Cassidy, a composer best known for his bodily, choreographic approaches to instruments and notation, presents his first purely electronic work to be released on record. Despite its digital materials, this is still visceral music. The result of a series of electronic, politically charged improvisations recorded in the early months of 2017, this work is raucous, unruly, volatile and defiant.

Katherine Young bassoon
Chris Mercer multi-instrumentalist
Charmaine Lee vocals
Sam Pluta electronics
Aaron Cassidy electronics



For Daphne and Delia II (2017) was recorded in November 2017 in the CHIME Studio, University of Chicago.

Recording engineer/producer: SAM PLUTA

Phantom Image (2017) was recorded at the Ryan Center for Musical Arts recording studio at Northwestern University

Recording engineer/producer: CHRIS MERCER

quarks (2017) was recorded at The Lethe Lounge, New York, NY on 30 September 2017.

Recording engineer/producer: SAM PLUTA

I, for example, ... (2017)

Recording engineer/producer: AARON CASSIDY


(P) 2018 University of Huddersfield
© 2018 University of Huddersfield

Catalogue number: HCR17CD
Release Date: 20 April 2018