Thursday, July 9, 2020
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Artist: Bill Thompson
Title: Mouthful Of Silence
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Burning Harpsichord Records
After tendinitis interfered with his career as a jazz guitarist, Bill Thompson turned to experimental noise-making, drone and avantgarde. Adopting his ‘perfect instrument’, a Moog guitar capable of infinite sustain and foot-pedal-driven overtone blending, he is now producing single-take, super-long evolving sound experiments in which drones and metallic overtones slowly shift, twist and mesmerise over very long periods, with every track on this release around forty minutes long or more.

“Stillness” charts an ambitious curve, both starting and ending in a mellow, soporific calm posture, particularly with the sparkling plucking sounds at the end, but inbetween it plots a course into harsh, atonal territory that creeps up so smoothly that you don’t immediately realise how sonically uncomfortable it is becoming.

Second track “Solitude” doesn’t share the same grit, instead wallowing more languidly in hollow sci-fi feedbacks that hint at howl-round without ever escalating. Twenty minutes in there’s a growing hint of rhythm and gravelly pulse that weaves its way in, without ever really challenging for dominance.

“Shifting Currents Installation” is a bonus track, independently available as a tour merchandise CD and now attached as a close cousin to the main two pieces of this release. The structure and attitude is broadly the same, but this is a busier work, with several sonic layers overlapping and interweaving, including some slightly scratchier found-sound-ish noises and an electrical pattern that feels rooted in the sound of an incorrectly connected electric guitar that’s been worked, EQ’ed and live-processed into something more complex. It’s more sawtoothed and abrasive than the other tracks, sometimes decided squealy, but still traces the same arhythmic alien landscape.

Arguably a single idea writ extremely large at over two hours’ worth of music, Thompson’s work is bold and at times unwelcoming. But for lovers of electric drone and hum, it will certainly be welcomed as a luxuriant listening experience.


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