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Release Info: TERRY FOX - BERLINO/RALLENTANDO, LP, 1988, USA
An epic entry into the drone music canon, this work from conceptual/performance/sound artist Terry Fox inhabits a zone of long-string drone avant garde action more readily associated with the likes of Ellen Fullman or Paul Panhuysen and his Het Apollohuis productions, though Fox marks out a singular stance for himself here. Side two's Rallentando occupies the more expected territory of the two, teasing out a transportive range of vibratory excitation from rosin stroked piano wire, two cellos and a double bass. This occupies a region not at all dissimilar to the autumnally tinged universe of stacked and strafed string drag advanced by Richard Skelton projects like Caroussel, Harlassen or A Broken Consort and is a damn lovely thing to behold, but it's side A's Berlino that genuinely startles. Comprised of six sets of sounds cross-cut against each other at varying degrees and times, Berlino is both a singularly unnerving and singularly fascinating listen. Unpacking the highly involved schematics of Fox's score here is a stiff task ("Soundmapping" the region of Berlin outside his temporary studio residence, transposing centimeters to seconds, "topographical dissimilarities" being assigned letters, etc), but what's available to our ears here is compelling enough; Fox having broken down these "soundmaps" and realized them in a score involving six sounds intervening unexpectedly against one another: 1) an instrument bowed in a cavity beneath a sidewalk, 2) parallel piano wires beaten with chopsticks, 3), a helicopter fly-over, 4) a long single piano wire bowed with a steel bar, 5) rain, thunder and bells of a nearby church and 6) the same as number 1, but taped on a different day in which "it made a sound as strange as the shape of the horsehead nebula". 'Nuff said.
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