Invocations, the new CD by composer Christopher Bono is a recording comprised of a lengthy 3-movement cycle plus two bonus pieces for chamber players. Dedicated to the composer’s father, the 3-movement work is a triptych that seeks to expressively suggest the patterns of the human condition and do so utilizing field recording soundbites and music based on texts.
The first movement “Exhaust”, which is said to be based on a personal prayer, kicks off the cycle in a straightforward mood, and allows one to rhythmically breathe before the heavier stuff falls. The title of the second movement, “Fish, Father, Phoenix” suggests a birth-life-death-rebirth pattern, but although the cacophony of the spoken-word diatribes is supposed to easily lay this out, it is somewhat garbled at first glance.
The same movement heard later on at the end of the disc sans soundbites presents a much smoother reading that might have been easier to decipher had it been set as the proper second movement.
The third movement titled “Sunday Stills The Willow” is a calming piece that, in a work mostly filled with unease, provides much sentimentality in a genre where sentiment is seemingly scoffed at. I guess it speaks more to those of us that are old-school softies.
“The Missing”, a string quartet piece that is the only stand-alone work on the album, has an interesting intro with intense-sounding extended string techniques before dissolving immediately into another sentimental mood throughout.
And with the reprise of the “Fish, Father” movement without the spoken-word, it brings you back to a promising conclusion.
Christopher Bono has a great deal of color and vibrance in his works. This particular collection could have maybe had an improved structure, but I feel like I know he knows where he’s headed.