Tim Perkis & Scott Walton — Applied Cryptography (pfMentum, 2016)
These tracks, many of them miniatures, pair Tim Perkis’ mastery of laptop electronics music with Scott Walton’s piano. It’s chamber music, as serious and deep as anything you’d find in classical section.
At times, Perkis’ command of the laptop rivals that of an acoustic instrument — such as a brief moment of sustain on “Oblique Compact,” so similar to a violin or saxophone holding a high note for dramatic effect. Composer Lisa Mezzacappa once noted that she not only includes Perkis in her bands but also hands him sheet music, and touches like this demonstrate why.
Much of the “classical” feel can be attributed to Walton. Even though he uses prepared piano at times, much of his playing has the feel of modern chamber music. “Naked Egg” is delicate and patient, as fragile as its title. At the other end of the scale, “Partial Ordering” uses lower-register hammering for a sense of drama, and Perkis responds with curt and relatively stiff sounds.
“Normal Form” takes that darker mood a step further, descending into heavy string-scraping on the piano and a buzzy undertone from the electronics. Here’s a segment that gets into some heavy keyboard work.
“Blind Signature” (all of these titles look like they do come from cryptography) offers a bit of crashing abandon and shrieking sounds, but it still leaves enough blank space to feel like a serious venture. It even has a mini-cadenza for some bleating, buzzy electronics. The album ends with “Zero-Knowledge Proof,” a miniature that’s peppered with the small, tightly clean sounds that Perkis does so well.