Studies I-XVII for Samplers and Percussion

Rupert Clervaux & Beatrice Dillon, 2015

The music on Studies I-XVII for Samplers and Percussion is as spare and straightforward as it's title suggests. I'm finding it hard to put into words what makes this record so damn compelling, so instead might dwell on what it's not.

It's not an electronic record. There are the aforementioned samplers, but for all I can tell, they are sampling percussion as well, or arranging the percussion that was originally played. Any intrusion of synthetic sound on this record is extremely subtle.

It's not a dance record. Virtually every sound on the album is percussion, but it's not aiming for dance style I know, from swing to hip hop. Each track hovers around 2 minutes long and is taken at a measured, mid-tempo pace. It's leisurely enough to let you take in the rhythmic interplay but is never frenetic. 

It's not an experimental record—at least, not in the academic sense. There are no percussion pile-ups in time signatures based on imaginary numbers. While Studies is, in fact, damn pleasing to listen to, there is a tension to the pieces that keeps the record from becoming merely pleasant.

None of this gets at the enduring mystery I find in this album. That mystery is what keeps me coming back to it, again and again, so perhaps I shouldn't try so hard at pinning it down.