PHILL NIBLOCK - Touch Works, For Hurdy-Gurdy and Voice (Touch, 2000)
Phill Niblock: computer
Jim O'Rourke: hurdy-gurdy
Thomas Buckner: baritone voice
1. Hurdy Hurry
2. A Y U, AKA "As Yet Untitled"
3. A Y U, Live
Sound artist/composer Phil Niblock does not record often. His music is best heard in live settings with adequate amplification. Only listeners with high-quality stereo systems and comprehensive neighbors will be able to fully experience Niblock's slow-evolving microtonal pieces. Nevertheless, unless you live in New York City, a CD is your best chance to hear the man's work at all. Touch Works: For Hurdy Gurdy and Voice presents two pieces (one in two versions) created in October 1999. "Hurdy Hurry" (15 minutes) uses samples of a hurdy gurdy played by Jim O'Rourke. The whiny tones are duplicated and pitch shifted. The composer brings them closer, takes them apart, all very slowly. From the apparently static piece arise subtle modifications as one is invited to leave the macroscopic world to study microscopic details. Of course, that's the case for all drone-based minimalist microtonal music, but Niblock's long-standing mastery has rarely been equaled. "AYU" (aka "As Yet Untitled") features samples of baritone Thomas Buckner (who commissioned the piece). His soft throat singing is sampled over 24 tracks. Only pitch shifts (up to two octaves) were used as treatments. The resulting piece has some qualities of Tibetan meditative chants. The listener often gets the illusion that the voice(s) turns into a cello or even a hurdy gurdy (blame that on the previous piece). For "AYU, Live," Buckner went back into the studio and sang over the previous version while four channels of pitch shift were added. He repeated the exercise twice, thus adding 15 more tracks. The second version is better, richer, and somehow more entertaining than the first. (from AMG)