Carl Testa (b. 1984, Chicago, IL) is a multi-instrumentalist and composer at the intersection of improvised, electronic, experimental music, and new media. As a performer/improviser, he is equally comfortable on string bass, electronics, lighting, and combinations thereof. As a composer, he has written acoustic and electronic music for configurations ranging from solo to chamber orchestra, including multimedia pieces that incorporate electronics, lighting, dance, and theater. His work has been performed throughout the US and Europe, and is documented on many recordings, most recently "Iris (for solo bass and electronics)" (Lockstep Records 2013), and "Sⁿ (for prepared guitar and electronics)", a collaboration with guitarist Christopher Riggs (Gold Bolus Records 2015).
In addition to his work as a leader/collaborator, he performs regularly with composer Anthony Braxton's ensembles and bassist Mario Pavone's ensembles. He serves as the Director of Publishing and Creative Technology for Braxton's Tri-Centric Foundation where he manages all facets of the production of digital and print scores for the organization. He is the production manager for noted jazz venue and record label Firehouse 12. He also organized The Uncertainty Music Series from 2007-2017, which was a monthly concert series in New Haven, CT featuring improvised, electronic, and experimental music. He has received support from the New Haven Department of Cultural Affairs and from NewMusicUSA. He lives in New Haven with his wife vocalist Anne Rhodes, and their son Florian.
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"Carl Testa's 'Ultraviolet' subtly blended acoustic and electronic noises as well as notated and improvised materials to conjure a splendidly successful piece, a sort of glacial minimalism expanded and subverted by the electronic overtones." - John Sharpe, New York City Jazz Record, August 2015
Sn is "an unrelenting tapestry of metallic noises, squeaks, scrapes, buzz saw rumbles and growls, clicks and pops. . . [it's] exhilarating" - Michael Hamad, Hartford Courant, 5 November 2015
Testa is "a phenomenal upright bass player and composer. . .the pieces [on Iris] outstretch into chamber group-sized acoustical spaces with an unpredictable timbral variety-a surprisingly melodic brand of electroacoustic improvisation" - Scott Schulz, Words on Sounds, 6 July 2013
Iris is "highly listenable ... a well-done excursion into electroacoustic improvisation that never subordinates musicality to experimentation" - Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News, 8 July 2013
"[T]he results are surprisingly warm and engaging-highly recommended for drone/soundscape connoisseurs [Critic's Choice]." - Hank Shteamer, Time Out New York, 3 July 2013
Testa "reorganizes the electronically altered elements into tangential melodies that spiral away from the original as well as clusters of sound that expand into fractal shapes, in neither case entirely abandoning the kernel of the tune." - Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader, August 2013
Testa's "tone is beautifully honest and his phrases marked by declaration and delicacy...Testa eschews harsh electronic noise for elegant Baroque counterpoint and enveloping minimalism." - Clifford Allen, Ni Kantu, 28 August 2013
"Testa's bass playing is fantastic. His forceful personality and beautifully resonant tone (perfectly positioned in the balance) is a powerful counterpoint to Braxton's often high-pitched inventions: put together, the two men create an imposing vista of registeral perspective." - Phillip Clark, The Wire, Summer 2008
The "trio performances are thoughtful and evocative . . . [they create] an introspective, chiaroscuro atmosphere." - Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News, September 2011
A "fine, engaging disc...doesn't quite sound like anything else I've encountered before...[Carl's] composing remains most engaging and unique throughout." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter, October 2008
"An interesting and unusual record...a worthwhile debut album." - free jazz stef, free jazz blog, October 2008
"It's human music, with varied emotions and...sublime moments." - Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant, August 2008