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Duane Pitre - Omniscient Voices

A truly startling creative high point, Duane Pitre returns to Important Records with “Omniscient Voices”, a stunning LP comprising five new just intonation works for piano and electronics. Pushing the minimalist form into visionary new territory, it encounters one of the most exciting young composers working today at the top of his game and continuously breaking new ground.

Since his emergence onto the experimental music scene during the mid 2000s, Duane Pitre has inspired a devoted following with a singular body of music that has pushed the possibilities of minimalism into new realms. Now, after a long hiatus, the visionary composer and musician returns to Important Records with Omniscient Voices, a stunning LP comprising five new just intonation works for piano and electronics.

Duane Pitre first gained note during the late 1990s as a member of the San Diego based post-hardcore band, Camera Obscura, delivering blistering attacks on guitar, but a restless and endlessly curious spirit, which had already provoked his transition from professional skateboarding into the world of sound, soon pushed him further yet. By the 2000s, Pitre had reemerged in NY, embarking upon a body of deeply meditative experimental works from electronics and acoustic instruments, composed using a sophisticated array of alternate tuning systems that shimmered across critically heralded releases like Organized Pitches Occurring in Time, Origin, and Feel Free.

Omniscient Voices, Pitre’s latest, follows an enduring period that witnessed the composer turning inward to focus on his personal practice, while refraining from releasing any work into the public ear. Slowly, toward the end of this period, a simple curiosity began to take form: “would the combination of his latest computer and electronic-based experiments, used in conjunction with justly tuned piano, produce interesting results?” Begun in 2020, without conceiving of it as an album, Omniscient Voices is the result of this inquiry, built by offering equal priority to both piano and electronics, utilizing his Max/MSP-based generative network to real-time convert precomposed piano motifs into data, which is then used to communicate with two polyphonic, microtonal hardware synthesizers, while deploying further controlled improvisations to create a "musical feedback loop".

In Pitre’s own words, "When making the pieces that would become Omniscient Voices, I often viewed the piano as human action, a single note becoming a single gesture that has the potential to change the electronic environment, the electronics becoming the environment surrounding that human in the natural world, who then has the power to change their actions based on their surroundings. All actions have consequences. The interconnectedness of everything. Single actions making waves of change."

The outcome, for all its brilliant concepts and intellect, is stunningly elegant, feeling natural and unlaboured, as carefully placed notes hang in the air, shimmering in their own resonance, deftly played against staggering pulses of harmonics and glacially shifting tonalities that left us rooted to the edge of our chairs for the entire duration of the album’s two sides.

Absolutely stunning from start to finish, and easily one of Pitre’s most striking and accomplished efforts to date, it’s impossible to sing the praises of Omniscient Voices enough. A must for any fan of work of Italian minimalist masters like Luciano Cilio, Roberto Cacciapaglia, Giusto Pio, Raul Lovisoni / Francesco Messina, and Franco Battiato, this is sublime music at its greatest heights.