Notes on Tristan Perich's "Parallels" (with Meehan/Perkins Duo)

This live, outdoor MOMA Nights event took place Thurs, Aug. 15, with excellent, unseasonably cool evening weather for a packed Sculpture Garden audience. Perich was offstage, letting his electronics do their thing, while Meehan and Perkins played triangles and hi-hat cymbals processed through his pedals/software/speaker rig. The piece recalled a late-'60s Steve Reich or Terry Riley jam and went on continuously for about an hour without letup. The main timbre was a Farfisa organ-like tone that spit out variegated trills and arpeggios within a somewhat limited tonal range. Midway through the hi-hats added human-played percussive textures. The mid-range "organ" was occasionally relieved by bass notes but it mostly hammered at one spot in your ear.
The piece was not an endurance work compared to Terry Riley's all-night organ-and-delay-pedal concerts but it certainly taxed this supra-bohemian audience sipping from champagne flutes and munching seasonal snacks and bruschetta selections. A few people voted with their feet.
As a believer in one and a half minute songs, this listener kept wanting to edit down to a few nice sections, and in about five places thought "this would be a good ending place."
Feats of endurance aren't all that impressive but you have to give points for the inventive musical ideas and surprises that kept popping up throughout the hour. The software and/or players generated some really exquisite clusters and runs of notes in purely Western, well-tempered scales.
It was possible to close your eyes and imagine three or four layers of sound: the street noise of midtown (a dull roar), the "organ," high pitched squeaks and chimes (a sort of residue of the metal triangles), and percussive white noise slaps.
As for the methodology, it was hard to tell what the software was doing exactly. Per the MOMA website "the piece is Perich’s first to combine order and randomness in the programming of 1-bit waveforms," but usually "one bit" conjures raspy square and/or pulsewidth waves, a la Atari games. None of that was heard. To this untutored ear it sounded like software was sampling a part of the triangle sound and removing decay and transients to generate those "pure" sounding organ tones, and then adding arpeggiation and a certain amount of randomness, in real time, as the players were playing.