A Basement Suite

TM 2022LP TM 2022LP

Tim Mariën's music settles in a liminal world, between borders. In A Basement Suite, musical self-evidences are called into question. At first, Mariën 'uproots' our listening experience through his use of unconventional musical tunings, which he distills from tones that are naturally present in the harmonic overtone series. In this liberating approach, turnings do not get bogged down in a fixed basic principle. They spread out and become a range of possibilities for the composer. Marien's flexible method is strongly tied to his practice of rebuilding and retuning instruments to play his microtonal scales, including antique, worn pianos, a discarded harpsichord, and a traveled mandolin. Sometimes the fragile state of these instruments prevents them from being tuned to perfection. But it is precisely this unruly materiality of sound, which runs counter to the theoretical perfection of tuning systems. Furthermore, Mariën often allows the instruments, with their unique timbres and microtonal scales, to simultaneously develop varying transformational processes in his compositions. Instruments are in constant interaction, taking over intervals, gestures and even playing techniques from each other. A Basement Suite takes us to the heart of Mariën's liminal sound world. This suite for string ensemble, written for Tiptoe Company, unites three pieces Mariën composed and reworked between 2012 and 2020: "Basement of Strings," "Unresolved Streets" and "Tomorrow Started the Game I." The liminal approach of A Basement Suite goes even further: the boundaries of the pieces themselves are also porous. Mariën conceived the suite as a modular composition, in which the three pieces can be rearranged and attached to each other in all sorts of ways. In the version for this album, Unresolved Streets (2015) was given a chorus role. With alternating plucked and bowed textures, the instruments seem to be searching for a solution that simply fails to materialize. (Text by Anna Vermeulen. Translation by Thomas R. Moore.)