PATRICK FARMER / KOSTIS KILYMIS / SARAH HUGHES / STEPHEN CORNFORD – No Islands

Another Timbre

According to someone’s opinion, it is better watching non-idiomatic improvisers at work during a live performance in order to have a clear idea of what they’re concocting and gain a deeper understanding of what they put in a recording to be enjoyed at home. Your chronicler stands at the opposite edge, preferring a “semi-blindfold” approach while a disc spins, trying to vaguely guess the origins of certain sounds by having a quick look at the palette or doing nothing at all, letting the acoustic secretions take me by the hand and lead the dance without chronic coughers and ear-whispering nerds around.

Naturally the results must be interesting enough, possibly suggestive. According to that logic No Islands (whose instrumentation includes turntables, electronics, chorded zither and amplified piano) is a fine achievement reiterating itself upon additional sessions. Consisting of two improvisations and a version of John Cage’s “Four6”, the record is endowed with a general sense of well-placement of its constituents, transmitting an almost ideal balance of organic, startling and transfixing traits. The timbral contrasts are cleverly exploited to create moderate hostilities destined to inevitable peace; broad-spectrum processes that nearly give the impression of being premeditated, yet without the “been-there-already” atmosphere typical of numerous recordings in this field. One feels that everything is under control at any time, surging hums, regulated feedbacks and vociferous rummaging in overall concord below the incivility level.

The contributors are perceived as vigilant witnesses of the music’s unfolding, followers of currents self-generating from the very sources. The birds, the children’s voices, the distant planes and the urban echoes heard throughout Cage’s piece seem to belong from the beginning, globules of awareness amidst splashes of untreated colours, no compulsory gestures and acts in sight.

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