Vijay Iyer: Mutations

Vijay Iyer – Mutations

Vijay Iyer, piano and electronics; Miranda Cuckson, violin; Michi Wiancko, violin; Kyle Armbrust, viola; Kivie Cahn-Lipman, violoncello

ECM Records CD ECM 2372


Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer makes his debut on the ECM imprint with Mutations, a recording of three piano pieces (two of them electronically enhanced) and the title work, a quintet for piano, string quartet, and electronics. The electronics involved are triggered from a laptop. Most are samples of stringed instruments making non-pitched sounds which are often used as rhythmic gestures or else as atmosphere.


The CD presents both Iyer’s notated music and improvisations. Rather than try to make a seamless transition between these two aspects of music-making, they are placed side by side in Mutations, with concert music for quartet in the spirit of Ligeti and Reich abutting jazz piano solos. All of the various elements – notated composition in modern and minimal veins, electronics, improvisation – dart in and out of the proceedings, creating a stylistically kaleidoscopic effect. What unites these disparate elements is the abundant musicality with which Iyer deploys them.


Other projects on ECM have been announced to follow Mutations, including recordings with small jazz groups and large ensemble. But leading with this CD is an audacious move that signals a new, ands thus far fascinating, chapter in Iyer’s body of recorded works. Recommended.


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