The day ended in Bates Mill Photographic Studio with a late-night performance by Quatuor Bozzini. The two works they presented, both UK premières, were like inversions of each other. Phill Niblock’s Disseminate as Five String Quartets combined the Bozzinis with four pre-recorded quartets to explore overtones and beats arising from pitch collisions. That description in no way does justice to the sound of this piece: in no time at all, all trace of the live quartet — and, more importantly, of any of the quartets — was completely lost in infinite waves of juddering, shimmering harmony. There were tiny but tangible obtrusions into this dense field, chords that pushed into it, their presence causing ripples and undulations in the field’s homogeneity. Yet ‘homogeneity’ is entirely the wrong word for sound that was always moving, changing, shifting and transforming. It felt like staring directly into the sun, transcendent and mindblowing.
For Élaine Radigue’s Occam Delta XV, the Bozzinis abandoned their music stands and played from memory, heightening the mood in a way that (as in many of her Occam works) felt almost sanctified, turning the studio into something akin to a place of worship. A chord emerged, simultaneously final yet provisional, becoming the basis for the most gradual evolution, the music’s nature and its harmonic connotations, as well as the relationship between the four players, continually being reshaped, always in a state of becoming. 35 minutes have never passed so quickly, and i almost felt wretched when it stopped; music like this should never, ever end.