|I have, for good or (more likely) ill, long compared e-ai pieces to models derived from the classical concert stage. I have praised many recordings in proportion to their propensity to remind me of, say, Ligeti’s Lontano, or Pendercki’s Threnody. Proximity to AMM is, to many, also a test of quality, and, I think, a good one. But if we were to remove all the proper names here and try (per impossibile) to reduce my conception of beauty in e-ai to recognizable, non-aesthetic qualities, what would we come up with? Perhaps a certain large-scale "glassiness" in conjunction with lots of apparently microsmic stuff going on "just beneath the surface." Repetition of a certain sort is generally eschewed, as is, of course, melody and regular pulse. Certain types of imitation are allowed among the performers, with respect to things like drones or dynamics or even "explosion events." For example, while a lengthy, single pitch unison drone might be allowed or even encouraged, the exact copying of a five-note phrase would be actionable.
Whether or not I have accurately reproduced any portion of the mostly subconscious criteria that attracts me to one work and not another, Hoop Whoop has all the operative goods in spades. Hubbub consists of pianist Frederic Blondy, reed players Bertrand Denzler and Jean-Luc Guionnet, guitarist Jean-Sebastien Mariage, and percussionist Edward Perraud who, together, have created a work of art both glimmering and trenchant. There is plenty of dynamic range and a significant diversity of timbres here, but those who are "off jazz" need not fear that they will be exposed to any Berklee School riffs. The saxophonists mostly restrict themselves to harmonics and other extended techniques, generally laying off even the sort of playing that Evan Parker engages in when he performs with AMM of SME members. The Individual sounds produced on this disc range from crunchy to dreamy or delicate, while the ensemble as a whole makes stops at icy, questioning and agonized without ever departing too far from the above-mentioned shimmering. With the exception of some five minutes or so of bumblebee material (instigated by Blondy but mirrored by the two wind players) in the middle of track 3 (the tracks have been inserted later solely to aid retrieval), there are no false steps. And even during that fast-churning bit, Mariage’s whining, double-stopped trills and wails and Perraud’s deft cymbal work salvage what could have been a painful alteration in perspective—from the "egolessness" of weather to that of the hive or ant farm. Anyhow, I love this recording, and I think that everyone else should too—at least everyone who enjoy early Ligeti, Penderecki, Roger Reynolds or the AMM of Inexhaustible Document.