Strata //

Album label: 
Release date: 
Recording location: 
IBeam, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Recording date: 
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Artwork design: 
Carlo Costa
Mastering engineer: 
Jim Clouse
Mixing engineer: 
Nathaniel Morgan
Recording engineer: 
Jon Rosenberg
  • 1. Strata (44:20)

Kyungmi Lee - flute, piccolo flute
Joe Moffett - trumpet
Ben Gerstein - trombone
Dan Peck - tuba
Jonathan Moritz - tenor and soprano saxophones
Nathaniel Morgan - alto saxophone
Jean-Brice Godet - clarinet, bass clarinet
Miranda Sielaff - viola
Todd Neufeld - acoustic guitar
Jesse Stacken - piano
Sean Ali - double bass
Pascal Niggenkemper - double bass
Carlo Costa - percussion

Carlo Costa’s thirteen-piece ensemble Acustica is dedicated to exploring a wide array of timbres and textures with the use of acoustic instruments. The ensemble focuses on performing Carlo’s compositions which make use of a variety of types of notation ranging from traditional to graphic, along with utilizing improvisation to varying degrees and in disparate ways. For this ensemble Carlo picked some of his closest collaborators along with musicians who share his sensitivity toward space and sound.

“The title of this piece refers to the layers of sedimentary rock and soil, known as strata (singular: stratum), which can be observed as horizontal stripes of different colored or differently structured material in cliffs, river banks or in excavations. In this piece the idea was to utilize layers of sound in different combinations ranging from spare single layers to densely stacked multiple layers while retaining a level of transparency throughout. The recurring material is presented in different contexts and each time takes a different place in the layers creating the effect of a change of perspective in the aural space.” - Carlo Costa


The Wire
“Layers of sedimentary rock and soil, viewed in cross-section, inspired percussionist and composer Carlo Costa to conceive Strata, a 45 minute excavation of texture and timbre, recorded live at Brooklyn’s Ibeam performance space in 2014. Costa and 12 other acoustic instrumentalists gently sift through the sonic shingle, which is thinly scattered or banked in more densely compounded layers. Overall Strata has the open-cast feel of a guided improvisation, an air of being loosely coordinated rather than a close-knit composition. Its structuring is obvious nonetheless: motifs recur, surfacing in different voices, jutting from a variety of contexts, helping to bond more elusive or abstracted material into a coherent and attractive form. Delicate acoustic guitar figures carry as much weight in the mix as double bass, trombone, trumpet or tenor sax. That carefully maintained balance and clarity suits the simplicity of the underlying idea. The result is satisfying music, worth returning to.”

Free Jazz Blog
“Carlo Costa’s website states that the ultimate result of the piece would be to create “the effect of a change of perspective in the aural space.” I think that Costa and the musicians involved were largely successful in doing so; listening to it is like occupying a palace of sound, in which the floors and staircases are constantly shifting, and doors that you intended to go through disappear, only to reappear in other places entirely. However, there is never a sense of chaos or turbulence - the movements here are glacial, deliberate, and frequently imperceptible. For a piece that utilizes thirteen musicians, it’s surprisingly minimalistic. The emotions and sensations that it conjures up, on the other hand, are immense."

“Le souci du détail dans chaque phase, chaque couche (souffle, murmure, frottement…) est passionnant à découvrir, à l’image de la pochette, qui peut donner le torticolis mais qui est représentative de l’univers musical d’un groupe qu’il faudra suivre avec intérêt.” (January 1, 2016)

New York City Jazz Record
“Costa’s dexterous arranging skills are confirmed in the composition’s final minutes. Following Kyungmi Lee’s upsetting piccolo shrills and factory-whistle-like clangor from the reeds, Jesse Stacken’s relaxed, half-speed piano chording soothes the narrative back to serenity. As he plays, there’s the sudden realization that this leitmotif has been expressed in variants throughout the piece. Stacken’s final notes explicitly link to the original theme and associate the exposition and conclusion as effectively as a reusable plastic storage bag is resealed.” (January 1, 2016)