Six Seasons

“The results are sound-noise innovations and soundscapes of a breathtakingly unexpected nature…. This may well end up as a milestone in the repertoire going forward. Do not miss it.” 


Engineered and mixed by Andrew Munsey.

Mivos Quartet: Olivia De Prato, Maya Bennardo, violins; Victor Lowrie Tafoya, viola; Tyler J. Borden, cello

The Chukchi Sea, north of Alaska, is one of the most inaccessible places to humans on earth. Six seasons in the Arctic, according to the Inuit, are not demarcated by a fixed calendar, but by what we hear in the changing environment.

Hydrophones were placed about 300 meters below the sea surface at a seafloor recording location 160 km north of Point Barrow. They capture the sound of sea ice, marine mammals, and the underwater environment throughout an entire year.
Lei Liang

A cycle of six movements and a coda, Six Seasons (2022) is as protean as the ocean waters that serve as its substance and underlying metaphor. In creating a space of many spaces and multiple temporalities, Lei Liang (b. 1972) resides in select company, artists who have fashioned a syntax of exploration both attendant to and divergent from music history’s established grooves and curves of innovation and tradition. Of the composers now lionized through the ever-expanding and often-arbitrary canon, George Crumb, John Cage, and Pauline Oliveros come most directly to mind, given their penchants for the enlarging of an instrument’s sonic palette in the service of extra-musical concerns.

At the heart of Liang’s vision is an all-inclusive and ever-evolving concept of presence in dynamism. When describing the experience of performing and recording Six Seasons, it is the idea most often revisited by the Mivos Quartet. To be present as listener, as reactor, performer, and planetary citizen is paramount. Liang’s goal is to create a totality, an experience to be shared in a common space.

Ironically, though sonically miles apart, Liang’s closest artistic ally may be the similarly poly-mathematical and intellectually insatiable Anthony Braxton. In the AACM composer’s Echo Echo Mirror House system, his entire musical autobiography is channeled through iPods, containing his discography, into Ivesian open-form ventures of constantly shifting focus over which soloists emote in transtemporal echolocation. Liang is creating a similarly vast and multivalent space-scape of metaphorical surfaces, windows, and gradations with kaleidoscopic physical implications. The intersections of individual and communal experience flourish, redefining the process of listening to the emanations from our planet, in crisis but also in all its manifold beauty. From under impenetrable ice, only the lone and disoriented Beluga whale’s distress call, pervading the cycle’s harrowingly sparse coda, compels all the more to render Liang’s dream of transformative unification a reality. (Marc Medwin, from the liner notes)

CD. Released June 23, 2023 on New World Records.

Engineered and mixed by Andrew Munsey
Produced by Lei Liang
Digital Mastering by Paul Zinman