BILL THOMPSON – Ocean Into Light

Burning Harpsichord

It’s been almost two years since my last sermon on Bill Thompson and his distinctive brand of electroacoustic mesmerism. Too many. Starting with the lethal one-two combination Mouthful Of Silence + Mouthful Of Air (published on this same label in 2018 and 2019 respectively), 2020 saw the release of a work with Phil Durrant called Intraspect, also on Burning Harpsichord, and another solo album, Blackout (on Ash International). I certainly need to make up for lost time. As you grab a copy of each of the aforementioned records pronto, here’s some good news for this initial quarter of 2021: an extended piece for Moog guitar, live electronics and found objects. Plus, as an additional gift, a bootleg recording from 2018 featuring Thompson’s first solitary performance at Glasgow’s Old Hairdressers.

The 51-minute title track begins more intensely than we might have expected. Feedback and distorted timbres in fine evidence; perplexing waveforms; a pulse that, rather than “deep”, may be classified as “telluric”. This parallelism of divergent dynamics continues for a while, somehow occluding the paths towards mental transparency. But once the components stabilize we are taken by the nape of the neck, lifted out of the chair and deposited in a familiar dimension of secure suspension. Gradually, the psyche starts to recognize the strengthening traits of Thompson’s enthralling music. Rejecting clichés with disdain, it never ceases to offer the wavering and throbbing nuances most appropriate to the multidimensionality of our inner caverns. 

In the midst of perpetual mutations generated by the Moog guitar and an array of scientifically connected pedals, we take note of the total immobilization of the intellect in favor of a self-equalizing palette of inexpressible hues. We feel lucky as, halfway through the course, we’ve become a small part of both the ocean and the light. It goes on until the end, the nerves completely rehabilitated as they just melt into awareness. Problems, misunderstandings and nervousness disappear for a brief interval of semi-conscious breathing. We’re free of silly encumbrances born from the forced comparison of egos; the tendency to prevarication inherent in human nature seems a fading memory. Sound-bound bliss is ephemeral, but we can return to a mind-saving condition thanks to Prof_LoFi’s bag of special remedies.

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