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Mauricio Pauly: The Threshing Floor - Santiago D​í​ez Fischer: Plastic Disorder

by scapegoat, Mauricio Pauly, Santiago Díez Fischer

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  • The limited-edition physical release contains a collection of 10 beautifully printed postcards (6 Untitled Moon Scores by Renee Gladman and 4 images from the recording session in Treviso taken by Regina Stelzer) all wrapped in a text written by Renee Gladman.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Mauricio Pauly: The Threshing Floor - Santiago Díez Fischer: Plastic Disorder via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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The experimental saxophone and percussion duo scapegoat places collaboration and multi-media projects at the center of their practice. The Threshing Floor/Plastic Disorder, their most recent release, documents two significant works written for them by composers Mauricio Pauly and Santiago Díez-Fischer. Both are scored for electronics and amplified instruments, and the fabric of the music is intricately bound up in the dynamic between acoustic, electronic, and enhanced elements. scapegoat brings virtuosity to the delicate demands of this highly detailed music, which calls for instrumental command, technical expertise with respect to the live electronics, and a keen sense for balancing out all of the elements to create an ideal composite sonic result.

Mauricio Pauly's The Threshing Floor spotlights two performers facing one another, their choreographies intimately integrated between them, their instruments and the terms of their amplification. A rough undulating centre throws offshoots into a pale ring of sustained tones projected by speakers against the outer walls. These ebb back into swarms of controlled feedback, extending the boundaries of all bodies involved.

Pauly establishes layers of activity throughout the work, with some sounds functioning as variable foreground material and others providing a more static background. Within these frames, the foregrounds and backgrounds shift and interact, sometimes forming hybrid timbres, and other times activating feedback with the other sounds present. As the work opens, a low drone pitch intermittently blooms into saxophone overtones as gravelly sounds in the percussion and electronics establish a percolating core. Two minutes in, a percussive attack signals a transition to a new section dominated by wispy gestures in the sax and on a frame drum, punctuated by static and insistent clicking in the electronics. The environment gradually become more abrasive, before the texture shifts again, now framed by sustained tones in the high register. Throughout Pauly adjusts sonic parameters and then explores them as a new ecosystem, allowing the sounds to interact and catalyze movement.

At the eight-minute mark, emerging from the airy texture from earlier, the piece becomes more angular with a repetitive, mechanistic ostinato over which Pauly builds layers of contrasting material. An oscillating, meditative drone emerges from the resonance of this activity and complex composite figures are layered, building steadily. At roughly 14:30, the foreground activity pulls back to reveal the drone, now developed as a beguiling harmonic loop. We are left with a sense of weightlessness that invites us to revisit our experience so far. Low rumbling events emerge and recede beneath this loop for the next several minutes before a landslide of sound washes in a new texture at roughly 18:30. Rapid strings of attacks, as if one were dragging a stick along several wooden slats, sustain intensity over a dense pad of sound. The texture diffuses under sounds of static and electronic glitches, before a bare high register tone closes out the final minutes of the piece. Pauly paces the formal structure of the piece beautifully, building to transitional moments by enhancing components of the prevailing texture as they instigate a shift.

The opening of Díez-Fischer’s Plastic Disorder is more instrumentally tactile, featuring unsettling textures between unstable sax multiphonics and tom-tom played with a bow and ruler modulating the head of the drum. Both instruments are again amplified, and Díez-Fischer incorporates distortion and octave effects pedals into the percussion chain, and volume pedals on both instruments, allowing for fascinating modulations of the amplified acoustic sound. In contrast to The Threshing Floor which predominantly established and developed immersive, multi-layered sonic environments, Plastic Disorder spends more time excavating discrete sonic phenomena, focusing our attention on the fragile textures established between timbres emanating from the two instruments and their respective processing. The material is often achingly melodic, despite resulting from sounds that express themselves in ambiguous combinations of pitch and noise. Just before the twelve-minute mark, Díez-Fischer establishes a searing pedal point around which whistling pitches and sax multiphonics swirl. After a brief interruption that is reminiscent of a system malfunction, the drone returns transposed an octave down, as feedback and saxophone growls become more ravenous.

The music on The Threshing Floor/Plastic Disorder, speaks to the constant evolution of the integration between acoustic and electronic elements. The conversation surrounding the relationship between technology and live performer in electro-acoustic music has shifted away from whether or not they are equal partners, in dialogue with one another, immersive or enhancing. The music scapegoat presents has been designed from the outset with the electronic elements as an inextricable component of the ensemble texture. By leaning on the edges of instrumental sound and then using processing to modulate those sounds, Pauly and Díez-Fischer have crafted a sonic vocabulary that precedes these aesthetic questions about the relationship between two distinct elements of the music -- the composite of acoustic, amplified, and electronically processed sound is the unique compound instrument being written for and the resulting material is its natural expression.


released June 19, 2020

scapegoat (CAN/FR) is:
Joshua Hyde, saxophone
Noam Bierstone, percussion

Recorded by Luca Piovesan
Blowout Studios, Treviso, Italy, February 2018

Produced by Murat Çolak, Mauricio Pauly, Santiago Díez-Fischer

Mixed by Murat Çolak

Mastered by Richard Scott

Photography by Regina Stelzer

Artwork by Renee Gladman

Art Design by Mauricio Quirós and Curtis Ho

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Mauricio Pauly Vancouver, British Columbia

Costa Rican composer, improviser and producer of hybrid (instrumental/electronic/amplified) music. Based in Vancouver since 2017.

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