Monday 24 September 2007

Phill Niblock - Touch Works, for Hurdy Gurdy and Voice (2000)



Niblock achieves his effects through multitracking of live and processed tracks and sampling, all based on original performances on acoustic instruments. He creates an aural illusion of continuity, like the perpetual gush of a waterfall, for instance. In reality, his ingenious layering methods mean that all kinds of infinitesimal but crucial structural and sonic shifts are taking place on a cumulative basis.



The album opens with 'Hurdy Hurry', a stunning hurdy gurdy piece constructed from samples of Jim O'Rourke's playing, recorded in New York at Robert Poss' studio (Band of Susans). This medieval stringed instrument played by cranking a resined wheel seems tailor made for droning, and O'Rourke has been known to drone on himself a bit in ages past. This makes his own early droneworks 'Remove The Need' and 'Disengage' seem like mere practice, but that practice has certainly paid off handsomely. At a cursory listen 'Hurdy Hurry' might seem like fifteen of continuous drone, but Niblock weaves together held tones with exact mathematical relationships to each other, and there is a constant slow evolution and almost imperceptibly gradual increase in mass as the piece unfurls.



It continues with two different versions of what could be Niblock's masterwork, a vocal piece 'AYU'. The letters A, Y and U are hummed by baritone Thomas Buckner and arranged into a continually shifting corridor of sampled sound twenty four voices thick. The second version adds a live throat singing performance from Buckner, pitch shifted one and two octaves down and multiplied fifteen times over. Imagine massed temples of Buddhist monks humming universal nirvana alphabet keys condensed by a sampler into the digital cyberlanes. Niblock is described as 'the forgotten minimalist' in the extensive and illuminating sleevenotes, which include an interview discussing his sound reproduction techniques. After hearing this, it's all the others that'll be more likely to slip from memory. - Graeme Rowland

link @320

11 comments:

Spring Day said...

The description sounds very tasty. Thanks for that. And, I like your idea of giving us the chance to protect the weak ;-)

bravo juju said...

This is, as all works by Niblock, a tremendous album. I find the review a bit, well, idiotic, but I really have no time/talent to put out my own reviews...

Glad you liked our top/down 5 posts lists. I did it mostly because one of my favorite records was doing really bad. Some posts seem to have benefited from this. At the same time, we may be perpetuating the top 5 list...

Spring Day said...

Hm, I'm into blogging since around May this year, and that gave me enough chances to think about favorite albums and music blogging. A lot of the music that I found on blogs is brilliant. However, the quantity is too big, and the way of aquiring this music is too easy. So, I am not sure, if any of the albums which I found on other people's blogs could become one of my favorites. My own favorite albums were those which revealed to me at certain points of my life. It's not just to do with the quality of the music, but also with reading reviews in magazines, listening to a great radio show, and then going out to buy an album, or scanning through mailorder lists. Not to mention the accidental findings on flea markets or in second hand shops. As I can't provide these experiences to those who read my music blog, and as their are just too many blogs around, I guess people just drown in this big wave of over-exposition to good music. I further assume that my favorite albums could never become other people's favorite albums only because I am posting them and making up or copying some nice words about them. However, I certainly often wish so. Therefore I can understand your attempt to give your own favorite albums some more exposure.

bravo juju said...

I understand your point. Quantity can be a problem - it is - although it also permits us to be selective: to get what we want, instead of what we can.
Some of my favorite records were actually found in blogs (Hart & Goebbels' Indianer fur Morgen - taken, I believe, from one of Lucky's early blogs - immediately comes to my mind).
No blogger can post his personal relationship with a particular record, of course. But he can try to promote it and hope that, sometime, someday, it will eventually become someone else's favorite (as it happened with Indianer fur Morgen for me). With records found in imaterial places such as this one, and with the sheer quantity of good music available, it may take a little longer but, in the end, I hope, it will happen.
What are we blogging for after all?

Spring Day said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bravo juju said...

Dearest Spring Day
I assume you wanted to keep that as a private message so I temporarily removed it. If that was not your intention, please tell me so that can re-post your comment.
I have no words to express the joy and gratitude for the gift you left here. I will try to find some words and leave them at your Spring Lodge in a few minutes.
Big Deep Thanks -

rui said...

Phil Niblock is Excellent! Please share more great records like this. -RUI

Touchworks said...

Sound is great.... Thankz

BeerMortyt said...

Thanks for nice blog. Could You check Your other entry about Phill N.: Phill Niblock "Music By"?

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