Like many 21st century composers who came of age in the closing years of the previous millennium, Simon Christensen has had an extensive background in a variety of musical genres, and as a result creates music that is deeply informed by all of them. But what sets him apart from most composers of his generation is that while all of his influences make sense once you know what they are, the resultant music he has been creating over the course of the past decade somehow transcends genre considerations entirely and is something completely fresh and new.
While one might trace Christensen’s meticulously notated scores to his rigorous composition training (at the Royal Academy of Music in his native Copenhagen and the Conservatoire Nationale Superieur de Paris), attribute his careful attention to sonorities and a systemic approach to their manipulation to background in live electronic performance (as a laptop artist in the duo Mobile Soundscapes or his use of a variety of analog modules in the group Kundi Bombo), and assume his obsession with pulse is related to his activities earlier on as a rock drummer (in the band New Paragraphs), Christensen’s very complex looking scores tend to sound much simpler, many of his most remarkable timbral details are achieved with purely acoustic instrumental combinations, and his skewed rhythmic sensibility ultimately has little to do with most rock music.
A big part of the impact of Christensen’s music comes from his ability to harness the off-kilter. His rhythmic palate includes cascades of mismatched tuplet sequences (e.g. quintuplets followed by sextuplets then septuplets) as well as polyrhythms exploring the incompatible overlapping of such sequences (e.g. seven against three then six against five, etc.). He also frequently utilizes a much broader range of possible pitches (in addition to the standard chromatic scale in 12-tone equal temperament, Christensen not only adds quarter-tones but also eighth tones, a variety of harmonics and sub-harmonics, and sounds with imprecise pitches. Whether it is a small intimate chamber piece or a large scale ensemble work, Christensen’s recent music has an unmistakably identifiable sound.
Excerpts from article by Frank J. Oteri (March 2012)
TRIBUTES - Pulse (2010-2011)
Toward Nothingness (2009)
Circuiting The Stroke (2008-2009)
The 1971 Connection (2008)
The Elastic Track (2006)