|Blasphemious Fragments - Point of Departure
Phil Minton / Gino Robair / John Butcher
(Blasphemious Fragments) sounds different to me from anything I've ever heard, even from these musicians. Like the other musics discussed here, it suggests the notion of a dream logic, an assemblage that cannot be fixed in place even as one hears it, a brilliant unity achieved with unrelated sounds. There are 11 tracks here, nine under five minutes, "Rutledge's door" stretching past eight, the relative epic "Sumptuous disturbances (and a Carol)" stretching past ten. At times there's a sense of continuum as exchange, as if the three partners are extending one another's notes: a sudden burst of language; an unidentified, perhaps electronic, drone; a truncated piano flurry; a few saxophone notes. It's a monody that's somehow being shared.
While there may be a continuous streaming line moving between the three, individual sounds and textures seldom sustain themselves long enough for a listener's interpretation or assignment of meaning. Sometimes the event threshold is so low - quavering whistles, airy saxophone harmonics (parts of "Rutledge's door") - as to suggest that the musicians are polishing air. "Sustaining vain gestures in the air" (the title perhaps a miracle of descriptive accuracy) contains some querulous whistling; air being passed through a saxophone and managing to change pitch without a note being articulated; a semblance of a thinned and extended cry or groan from Minton.
The quality of collective restraint achieved here, a brilliant hesitation, may be sufficiently potent to embarrass a late Beckett play.
© Stuart Broomer / Point of Departure
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