Music Reviews

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Artist: Phill Niblock (@)
Title: Touch Five
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
One of the living legends of the early minimalist generation and universally recognized as one of the authentic master of drone music, 80-years old Phill Niblock keeps on feeding his musical hobbyhorse, the develoment of a music whose sole engine is the gradual sedimentaton, juxtaposition and layering of microtonal dilutions from instruments in very slow motion, where the real instrument is tape recorder and other computer-aided, electronic or digital devices, which makes this refining easier, and this is the approach Phill followed to build the two long-lasting pieces of the first cd: "Feedcorn Ear" - the title is the anagram of Belgian-Dutch cellist Arne Deforce, which provided the instrumental inputs, even if the final result could let you think about a flugelhorn slotted in some pulmonary alveolus of a giant - is the last and maybe the most otherworldly and somewhat celestial part of a trilogy that Phill begun to mould in his Experimental Intermedia studios in New York after the recording in Piethopraxis - the studios owned by Marcus Schmickler in Cologne - where he used a Brauner microphone, while the unrecognisable departure point of the following "Cage Of Stars" - a drone suite commissioned by Rebecca Shatwell and the AV Festival 12, an International Festival of Art, Technology, Music and Film and premiered on the 3rd of March 2012 at the Sage, Gateshead - were the clear-cut pitches on an e-bowed harp by Welsh harpist Rhodri Davies, who got aided by an oscilloscope visualization in Max MSP software which gave him the possibility to check if he was drifting sharp or flat while bowing. Both of this long-lasting suites are really mesmerizing and will render the impression of movement inside a static but slowly changing cloud, which will probably cause a temporary tinnitus for the minutes which will follow their listening. The second cd includes three different version of "Two Lips" for guitar quartets, whose score has been based on a graded sequence of microtonal steps - 10 divisions of the equal-tempered semitone (100 cents) - where a couple of guitars imperceptibly descends, ten cents a time, from a G tone to a F diesis, while the other two guitarist rises from a G diesis tone to an A. In spite of the conciseness of its score, the three different performers (NY-based electric guitar quartet Dither - Taylor Levine, David Linaburg, Joshua Lopes and James Moore -, Belgian/Dutch quartet Zwerm - Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, Matthias Koole, Toon Callier and guest guitar player Guy De Bievre - and Coh Da Quartet, made up by Niblock veterans David First, Seth Josel, Robert Poss and Susan Stenger) achieve quite different outcomes. Intended for masterly eardrums.



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