TOMAS PHILLIPS / JASON BIVINS – Blau

Dragon’s Eye

Influenced by painter Barnett Newman’s “solid color canvases broken by vertical lines of various shades”, Blau showcases two stimulating talents with a fair degree of success. One assumes that the method applied by the duo involves the use of Bivins’ unsophisticated instrumental matter as the source for Phillips’ treatment. In the opening minutes a guitar-generated crackle sticks out like a sore thumb, raspy and sour; apart from a vague comparison to some of Gary Smith’s infinitesimal rubbings, I thought about a classic “noise vs ambient” kind of ho-hum, here-we-go-again release. On the contrary, after the engine is set in motion and the right level of flexibility is reached, the music shifts towards more concentrated settings. Marvellous droning materials are born from peculiar resonances interspersed with glitches, pops and other types of scratching interference and additional string filth, only not as pointless as in the beginning. The gorgeous “Ohne Titel 3” – which summons up memories of Robert Hampson’s Main – is an ever-welcome moment of profound fusion within sympathetic frequencies for a listener who has been there and done that a hundred thousand times. Even in places where the guitar is immediately recognizable at first, something that sounds almost sacred emerges in subsequent evolutions; elsewhere, as in “Ohne Titel 5”, it’s just you and a series of unfamiliarly shaped strata. The pair shows persistence, their substance’s scent slowly spreading to give the idea of a serious preparatory work behind the music as opposed to the typical frivolity of Lexicon-brandishing nobodies dispatching a nauseating somnolence for fine art.

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