Mark Dresser

"The CD ["With{In}communicado"] really works as one flowing whole. I'm enjoying it more with each listening. This is rare. Bravo on a rigorous and thoughtful work."

Allmusic.com

"With(In)communicado gathers works composed and recorded by guitarist David Dvorin from 1996 to 1998. The title-piece is actually as six-part suite scattered through the album. Its short movements all use telephone sounds (messages left on answering machines, automated messages, beeps, tones, hang-ups) paired with guitar and samples. One of the most effective parts is "Breakdown" with its twangy guitar line blended with message excerpts ("My machine doesn't talk to me"). The other works presented here range from solo and untreated guitar (acoustic) pieces ("Beams and Struts," "Left Open") to more developed compositions like the Frank Pahl-sounding "Swelled Head" or the beautiful "Jesart (3 in 1)," a programmatic piece dealing with the relation between art and religion, where the guitar is masqueraded as a church organ. The only piece failing to attract serious interest is "Calendar," an improvised guitar (electric) solo recorded 15 seconds at a time over a 30-day period: interesting concept, inconclusive result. Apart from this piece, With(In)communicado has a lot of daring and finely executed music to offer."

SonoLoco

The answering machine beeps, the telephone rings, the operator’s voice blends in, then more operators tell you to dial again, and suddenly you get the feeling of “On the Beach”, that 1960’s movie dealing with the crew on a sub who turned out to be the sole survivors after a nuclear war. They hear some beeping sounds, but that is discovered to be an automatic transmission, no live humans involved.

There are six tracks spread out across this CD called "With(In)communicado", numbered #1 to #6, which all draw their sounds from the answering machine of David Dvorin during September 1996. This is a nice, though not untraveled, path, and Dvorin utilizes the sonic pollution of every man’s gizmos well, giving it a new context, a new meaning, much in the way that artists like Andy Warhol and his followers put everyday commonplace products on display in the art galleries, or the way Marcel Duchamp used “ready-mades”. You would think that this concept be out-dated by now, but no, it works fine here. Every third or so decade older styles pop up again too, in partly new contexts, as technology evolves. The concept of success in these domains always lye in the compositional skill of the composer. This is very important. Just because you have a Macintosh G4 with twin processors at your hand, you’re not an electroacoustic wizard. We see to many examples of this; people mistaking the pen for the novel. In this case, though, I think it works quite good, even though I, from years and years of listening to electroacoustics and modern music, get a little demanding as to the results of the experimentation.

Between these gizmo tales Dvorin puts other musical pieces, duly altered, electronically - except for some purely acoustical tracks that remain pristine and untouched. Track #2, for example – “Swelled Head” – uses backward-recorded harmonies from a bowed psaltery with looping electric guitar fragments. The psaltery was prepared with objects like paper clips etcetera.

Track #7 - "Rain" - at first reminds me a lot of Brian Eno's "Discreet Music".

On the whole this is a nice example of the workings of an experimental American composer of today.

All About Jazz

Along with folks such as Ernesto Diaz-Infante and a few others, guitarist/composer/educator David Dvorin is among the recent wave of Northern California-based – new music – artisans who often mold contemporary classical elements with folksy themes, free improvisation and digital electronics. And in his own words, Dvorin’s With(in)Communicado is inspired by notions that...”deals with the breaking down of transmission systems and social communication in an era of proliferating hi-tech communication devices”.

Here, Dvorin’s topical and relevant musings are partially conveyed via some of his recorded answering machine messages and while the telephone shtick does not represent anything totally novel, the artist electronically manipulates many of the messages that serve as conceptual launching pads for these compositions. Dvorin renders ethereal soundscapes performed on acoustic and electric guitar along with loops, EFX and keyboards as he frequently generates jagged musical statements often utilized for altering or subsidizing the grand scheme of things. Additionally, Dvorin explores ambient and at times, mood enhancing motifs amid spacious guitar lines, subtle treatments and strong doses of imagery, which is most prominent on his composition titled “Rain”, where he hammers his guitar strings to mimic the implied sounds of rain drops touching the earth. Yet on “Calendar”, Dvorin indulges in some Derek Bailey-style guitar picking. Overall, With(In)Communicado is a curiously interesting and rather ambitious project. A recording, that is noticeably adorned by the contemporary subject matter.

Splendid E-Zine

I like it when a CD as a whole has a form, as if there were some sort of meta-piece that exists underneath or alongside the individual songs or compositions.

With(In)communicado has 14 tracks, but six of them are movements of a larger work ("With(In)communicado #1-6"), and they are spread across the CD like fence posts. Each of the movements is more like the others than it is like the rest of the pieces on the CD, so they serve as a sort of motific idea that keeps coming back, reminding you of where the music's been and perhaps where it's going.

 The "With(In)communicado" pieces are based on messages left on Dvorin's answering machine over the course of a month. The messages have been heavily cut and edited, and then combined with other telephone-related materials -- dial tones, operators, dialing noises, etc. I find the results very interesting, but strangely un-nerving; I think it's because of the eerie familiarity of the material. We've all dealt with maddeningly slow voice mail systems, or that annoying "the phone is off the hook" bleeping noise, or garbled answering machine messages -- all products of the strange way we've disconnected ourselves from one another in the course of our attempts to communicate. Strange. 

The rest of the pieces on With(In)communicado range from fairly straightforward guitar compositions to very organic sounding, but clearly electronic/sample-based works that often use guitars or other plucked instruments. "Calendar" is a pretty interesting experiment in which Dvorin recorded 15 seconds of improvisation each day for a month, listening only to the previous day's recording to provide continuity. "Swelled Head" is a nice stew of bowed and prepared psaltery, looped electric guitar fragments and banjo picking, cooked up via computer into an exotic-sounding dish from some unspecified but eclectic land. 

While the music on With(In)communicado is undoubtedly "experimental" in nature, it's also pleasant and engaging -- something that can be pretty hard to pull off. Dvorin has done it, and the result is an enjoyable and memorable release.