by Mark Tamea

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In Vital Weekly 626 I reviewed a compilation by Ressonus Records, and I noted the positive presence of one Mark Tamea, who was born in the UK but lives in The Netherlands - so I noted back then. More curious he lives in Nijmegen, lovely home town of the weekly HQ. Looking at his website now, I see he was also a member of Kymatik, a group that released a CD on Paradigm and which we reviewed in Vital Weekly 257.

There is a lengthy quote from H.P. Lovecraft on the cover but no other information. Like what you may ask? Well, I'd be for instance curious to know if the instruments that I hear on this album, mainly cello and violins, are played by Tamea, or others, or that these are samples of some kind. They play quite an important part in some of these pieces. In other pieces the electro-acoustic touch plays an important role, the door opening, outside recordings, that kind of thing.

Tamea creates some great music (and I'm not saying this because he is from Nijmegen, but it helps). Its high and mighty conceived and composed, with lots of tension underneath in his piece, depicting a dream world, but not in an ambient sense of the word. More modern classical than purely electronic. 'Music for cello, tape and electronics' could be a subtitle, if produced in that serious context. I was thinking of John Wall when I heard this. The same crystal clear instrument recording, cut and spliced together with some excellent field recordings. This is a breathtaking(ly) beautiful CD. This guy should be big.

- Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

Another reviewer has beaten me to the line in declaring this album as Modern Classical, and I would agree wholeheartedly with that assertion. It would play in any art space and would support performance. There is the air and space, the drama and the fluidity that translate to human movement. I feel there is a career for Tamea in this segment of the world of music.

The call and response of the sonic elements defines the maturity of this work. While there is no rhythm in the literal four on the floor sense, there is a pulse that transports the dialogue from beginning to end.

This album achieves a rare success - it is interesting and it is challenging. It has the mystery of the Mona Lisa smile. It moulds itself around the mood of the listener transporting that experience to a more vivid place. A catalyst of the soul. The snippets of classical instrumentation are pinpricks of light glimpsed through a felt curtain. The Rothko analogy is there waiting for the listener to recognise.

Also evident is the Tessallation metaphor, subtle and cliché-free. The work is a geometric patchwork of sonic components, each in balance with it's neighbour. There is a sonic tension that has the senses primed in expectation. Music is a contract of rules and conventions. And in any work of semi-abstraction, the listener's reception is primed to receive the information bound by those rules. Here, the rules are obeyed, but pushed up to the limit, challenging the listener to fill in the gaps and make something, the sum of the parts greater than the whole, a gestalt, in the same way detailed scrutiny of a painting by DeKooning pulls shapes out of a tangle of brush-stoke expressions. That is what I like about this work; it's success, an expression of poise and balance.

The artwork, an ambiguous photograph that splashes light against a dark background in the Old Testament apocalyptic manner supports the music appositely, marking a stage in the path from hand to eye to ear that is the act of playing the music.

- Alan Walker


released December 10, 2008


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Mark Tamea

Mark Tamea is an English/Dutch composer, whose music draws on the infinite potential of electroacoustic experiments, synthesis and field recordings. His work clashes the commonplace and the imaginary, the discernible and the esoteric, fusing this juxtaposition with delicate harmony. ... more

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