THOMAS NEWMAN / RICK COX – 35 Whirlpools Below Sound

Cold Blue

Rick Cox: prepared guitar, Xaphoon, cello, voice; Thomas Newman: toy accordion, violin, piano, phase metals; Jeff Elmassian: clarinet

Both renowned soundtrack-making entities, Newman and Cox have worked on this joint album for years. They ended publishing nineteen tracks that – besides the foreseeable cinematic features of certain combinations, see “Venice Mule” – reveal bizarre substructures and a plethora of visuals, halfway through REM (not the band) and a fluid acoustic imagery relating to semi-altered states. The very title is taken from a phrase heard by psychiatrist Hervey M.Cleckley from a patient.

I may have not indicated them in the credits, but field recordings of wind, leaves, water and cars have a definite say in some of the episodes. Presumably they were seriously processed, given the malleability of the sonic spectrum investigated by the composers. Most pieces are indeed quite aleatory in terms of intrinsic movement and aural grain: one moment identifiably “tonal”, a minute later totally unfathomable. Loops and seamed snippets introduce us to complex systems of reduplication, at times moving rather convulsively (“Carapace”). The awareness of the past is evidently an essential source, a faint transitoriness at the basis of memories that refuse to be tagged (“Goldmine Nectarine” being the finest representation). In “Negative Rhythm” we’re confronted by inhomogeneous materials which, curiously enough, seem to stimulate a transition towards a quiescent state of mind.

Confessedly, my initial attempts with 35 Whirlpools were not rewarded by an immediate liking. But this is a classic case of gradually increasing appreciation, in direct proportion with the level of deep listening one puts into it. What at first appeared as just OK becomes a necessary passing phase leading to further stages of reconditeness. Finally, you come to something like “Ashland Schine” – a woofer-quake trip across subsonic blows and inscrutable backgrounds – fully prepared to acknowledge the truth: Newman and Cox have removed any ill will from your inner mechanisms. So, the eventual wish is to keep floating amidst these nerve-recharging repercussions for another good while before returning to perceive ugly minds and meaningless voices.

Posted in Uncategorized