James Eccles of Sydney-based string quartet The NOISE says they began improvising for fun – avoiding the usual through-composed repertoire. Their first release comprised improvised or semi-composed original music without a ‘cover version’ in sight. This new release Composed Noise allowed them to commission works from seven composers that contain a central element of chance or improvisation with occasional sound effects thrown in. A two-disc set features a work each from established composers Andrew Ford, Rosalind Page and Lyle Chan as well as emerging ones like Paul Cutlan, Andrew Batt-Rawden, Amanda Cole and Alex Pozniak.

The element of chance or improvisation has come to classical music through jazz and the I Ching associated with composers like John Cage and Lou Harrison. Composed Noise, however, has music, which is just as influenced by contemporary electronica and trance. Rosalind Page’s opening Zerkalo takes its influence from the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky and pairs him with the modal simplicity of Pärt and Tavener.
A similar modal quality underlies Cutlan’s Merge/Emerge thereby starting each disc with something easy to listen to, whilst opening the ear to improvisation. Ford, on the other hand, achieves his objective by playing individual players off against their work as an ensemble.