Phill Niblock's music has always been characterized by a single-mindedness in approach, form and content, and for many years was inextricably linked with its means of production, i.e. dense collations of sound amassed using multi-track tape technology.
So it was with great interest that I have looked forward to see what changes, if any, would be manifest as Niblock has adopted contemporary technologies of computer-based music. In his new series of computer compositions, the aesthetic point of view remains the same, yet the ranges of expression are indisputably extended, both with respect to dynamics and pitch extremes.
While one might have feared that Niblock's turn to computer-based music might have undermined one of the most attractive features of his work heretofore, i.e. the wonderful interplay of nuances of pitch, attack and volume in the materials he juxtaposes, in fact these subtleties are even more in evidence now. In a music otherwise without overt drama, there has always been one grand gesture in all of Niblock's pieces, for as each piece concludes the listener is left with the deafening silence of the absence of a sound that lived, breathed and dominated the listening space. Carl Stone
1. Five More String Quartets
Performed by The Soldier String Quartet
2. Early Winter
Susan Steger: flute
The Soldier String Quartet
Eberhard Blum: bass flute
38 sampled and synthesizer voices, computer controlled.
Originally commissioned by Thomas Buckner in 1991.
Released by Experimental Intermedia Foundation in 1993.