Okkyung Lee: cello
Ghil was largely recorded in selected out-of-the-way places around Oslo by Lasse Marhaug, utilizing a second-hand tape machine dating from 1976 (!) in the attempt of representing, also by virtue of peculiar microphone settings, a sort of sonic “raw grain”. Other than editing, no additional processing was exercised: this immediately killed my initial idea of pedals placed somewhere in the link. Some of the things you hear are downright awesome in view of that.
Mismanaging a cello to radically modify its properties comes as simple as breathing for Lee. Three main courses of action can be sensed at various times in the LP: the decomposition of the timbre until “idiosyncratically collateral” molecules are detectable; the birth of constrictive clusters from the summation of scratched noises; a pseudo-vocal constituent becoming manifest as the upper partials and the pitches are bent and twisted according to certain practices.
Add to this the impressive strength shown by the seditious Korean’s approach to droning and hyper-tremolo, and the results would already be quite spectacular. But the unique combinations of smuttiness, fuzziness, coarse contamination and screaky biology generated by the different locations and recording techniques propel a large chunk of this release beyond the realm of verbal rendition. We’re talking vibrational developments of the phrenetic kind, all forms of philosophical doctrine thrown by the side to open a thorough process of melting of any residual earwax.
Once more, Lee has managed to produce music ranging from “freakish” to “mind-bending”. She keeps tripping towards acoustic dissolution with – quoting an old Pat Metheny title – zero tolerance for silence. Better refurbishing our listening habits to find a level of symbiosis with what she’s looking for, which is probably very close to what we are looking for. Could it be audience muteness?