IAN VINE – Frieze / Static Form / Division


Ian Vine: acoustic and electric guitar, electronics

These pieces represent my point of entry into the world of a young British composer who already enjoys an appreciable degree of renown. A correct enough definition for it may perhaps be “spectral minimalism”, which on the one hand partially explicates Vine’s involvement in Morton Feldman’s conceptions, whereas on the other could cause a modicum of surprise when a quick look at the links on his website reveal (welcome) connections to Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. Open ears and minds are indispensable when dealing with concentrated physical phenomena founded on relative stillness; this is precisely what you get here, with the customary advice to play the music loud to get clustered pitches eliciting gradually mutating clouds of upper partials.

You have realized by now that we’re talking about long durations and scarcity of motion. However, the adjacent harmonics combine and pulsate gloriously most everywhere, the eBow presumably a protagonist of all the performances (*). “Frieze” is the lone piece using the acoustic guitar, hoarsely gaseous attributes enhanced by solitary notes standing out for a few seconds prior to disappearing in a trembling mix. Recorded in a single take (and suddenly interrupted at the end), “Static Form” suggests a minor chord of sorts to begin with, yet the real richness lies in the terrific mingling of variously throbbing frequencies causing an almost immediate state of “watchful hypnosis”, while cadenced noises – comparable to someone slowly walking on the snow, then to a faded version of an helicopter – accompany a good chunk of the recording. The nine electric guitars superimposed in “Division” create a rewarding organ-like fullness, extremely beautiful to contemplate in its semi-consonant depth. This particular episode was remastered by Stephan Mathieu, and there is indeed a vague resemblance to the layering of radiant waves defining some of the latter’s suspensions. This also reminds us that Vine’s art is entirely fit for installation settings; today, after the analytic listening sessions, this reviewer used it as such. It’s still with me as I’m typing, the whole day gladly spent with an album that bewitches with modesty.

(*) Mr. Vine writes: “The sounds in static form are made by an iPhone: it’s used as a stopwatch in the performance, to help follow the score. but when you hold it over the guitar pickups you get those different electronic sounds, depending on which app you are in.”

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