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Alex Vittum: Prism

Solo Percussion Series 1
Duration: 49:26
Format: CD-R
Edition: 300
Release Date: November 2010
Cover Art: Peter Hasson

Download from Bandcamp


  1. intervale
  2. gather.move.join.
  3. micro bronze
  4. amici pulse
  5. blink
  6. 56 dreams
  7. light.dark.fracture
  8. path

Prism is an electro-acoustic solo album from SF Bay Area musician Alex Vittum.  Performed in real-time with no overdubbing, Vittum utilizes Max/MSP software to build highly interactive solo compositions, seamlessly blending live percussion and electronics.

Artist Bio:
Alex Vittum is a percussionist and composer based in the San Francisco Bay Area who combines the disciplines of percussion, electronic music and instrument building. He is a member of several groups including Stratic, For Now, Tide Tables, and performs solo electro-acoustic works as Prism. Alex has collaborated with a diverse group of musicians, composers and choreographers including Roswell Rudd, Kitty Brazleton, Ben Goldberg, Daniel Carter, Stuart Dempster, and Gina Gibney Dance. He has a BA from Bennington College, an MFA from Mills College and has studied percussion with Milford Graves and William Winant. He is a recording engineer/producer and an educator in both music and wood working. Alex is an associate instrument builder/designer with the Paul Dresher Ensemble, a technician for synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla and the percussion instructor at Oakland School for the Arts.


Gapplegate Music Review
The drum set is not just that noisy contraption that disturbs parents’ peace of mind for years at a stretch with barrages of cracks, crashes and ba-booms (and I must admit I was guilty of doing that to my folks while growing up). It is of course a MUSICAL instrument, capable of holding its own (in the right hands) with the violins, pianos, cellos and the rest for toneful invention.

That this is so can be heard especially clearly in drummer-percussionist Alex Vittum’s album for traps and electronics, Prism (Prefecture 003). There are eight compositional- improvisational vignettes on the record, each involving singular duet-like excursions with Vittum on drums-percussion in conjunction with interactive electronics software that allows for a dialog, a live give and take between “man and machine.”

It’s the sort of thing that could sound tentative or unfocused. Prism most assuredly does not. There are times when electronic envelopes of tones project a legato wash that is punctuated by drum phrasings of a sound color sort. Other times there is pulsating interaction between the electronic sounds and Vittum the drummer.

Electronics of course can produce sound complexes that are very complex and thickly layered like an orchestra or more chamber-like in dimensions. Both possibilities are successfully engaged onPrism, as are varying stages in-between.

Whatever the density however, Alex shows himself to be a very creative and sensitive player who thinks through his interactions with a subtle virtuosity and a keen ear for the wash, the speech-like utterance and the rumble of power.

I might venture to say that Mr. Vittum has learned a thing or two from the experimental ventures in drum-percussion-electronic music made since the early sixties and he refines what can be done to a point that here all is rather deliberate and nothing sounds tentative. He seems to know what he is about and proceeds to create some very impressive sound poetry that brings the drummer into a more completely musical realm than he has sometimes been in during the past 100 years.

Prism is on the whole a most remarkable achievement. Listen and you will gain a new appreciation for the drummer-as-musical-visionary. This is a kind of concerto for drums and electronics as it is also an extended improvisation in the advanced sense of the term. Listen and enjoy!

Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
San Francisco Bay area percussionist and composer Alex Vittum presents an intimate solo percussion recording; it’s performed within a software environment he also wrote for his drumkit. The eight selections were produced (amazingly enough) without overdubbing and feature a diversified palate of sound and textures. Vittum is part musician, part engineer/producer, and part instrument builder and designer, a sort of 21st century combination of Harry Partch and Raymod Scott. He is also a member of the duo Tide Tables with Paul Kikuchi, Powerdove and Unbalanced Chain.

The music generated here is notably introspective and attentive to detail. Vittum opens with the mostly ambient “Interval,” that rumbles the subwoofer as if the real deal here might actually be happening beyond the audible range of the human ear. As Vittum adds the human touch of sticks and bells the dream-state ends. Such is the case often here. With no visual data, the mind settles into the hush and authority of the electronic waves and percussive blows. Even simple chimes on a track like “Amici Pulse” call for new ears as the celestial sounds act a meditation transportation device. Even his six minute drum roll on “56 Dreams” is somewhat disparate with a subtext of earthquake and rumble.