HYMN – Silence, Then Birds

Confront Collectors Series

Three discreetly unfolding improvisations, courtesy of Chris Dowding on trumpet, Sylvia Hallett on violin, bicycle wheel and saw, and Dave Ross on “Davestation”. The trio operate electronics as well; in particular, the Davestation is a hardware based control voltage time modulator (I’ve learned this from the liners to another album involving Ross, an ingenious manufacturer of unusual instruments from poor materials).

The music oscillates between an asymmetrical adagio and a somewhat subaquatic variety of Jon Hassell-ish hallucinatory soundscape, echoing fragments of melody acting as guide lights through a floating quasi-stasis. The original timbres are sparsely perceived, the ears comfortably adjusting to their persistent transfiguration. The task is made easier by a generally unhurried pace; the actual notes played (make that the sheer gestures required to produce a tone, or a mere noise) are rather few. A slight exception might be the beginning of the second track “Camouflage, Last Peace”: one pictures the musicians throwing all the raw ingredients at once in a shape-twisting mechanism, then relaxing to watch the outcome while adding more snippets and shards as the minutes elapse.

At any rate, metamorphic processing and looping represent the virtual spine of this strange yet captivating sonic organism. It doesn’t take long to get seduced: in a rare instance, the record works fine both in “intense listening” mode and as an active complement for silent reflection. However, don’t you dare labeling it as “ambient”: the room’s furniture may not welcome those throbs, bubbles and protrusions from some obscure micro-galaxy. But you will.

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