Amok Koma (West Coast premiere)
The late Italian composer Fausto Romitelli (1960-2004) enjoys an unusual, even flamboyant reputation for melding psychedelic rock music (along with its many myths) and the more formal “spectral” music of composers such as Gérard Grisey. The latter includes Romitelli’s interest in the natural order of harmonics in the analysis of sound and how it symbolizes order in the universe as opposed to the chaos of distortion and sounds created from an “unnatural” order of harmonics. The two clashing orderings also somehow represent to Romitelli the real and imaginary.
His Amok Koma (2001) for ensemble and electronics shares the palindromic title of a 1980 album by a German punk rock band called Abwärts. The opening three chords are repeated and varied throughout almost the first half of the roughly eleven-minute piece with rapid instrumental passages serving as a buildup of sonority.
A contrasting section commences with an exploration of string harmonics, building slowly into a frenzy of overlapping melodic lines that at times sound borrowed from rock music, and which eventually return to occasional occurrences of what can be recognized as the opening three chords, but at a much slower tempo. The piece builds towards a paroxysm of drumming, followed by a coda returning to the simple presentation of the opening three chords and the string harmonics, gradually fading out into silence.