The Squid's Ear Magazine


Niblock, Phill: Boston Tenor Index (Alga Marghen)

Three previously unreleased works by composer Phil Niblock--Index" (1969); "Tenor" (1972); "Boston III" (1972)--plus an earlier version, "Boston I", all rich works of microtones, overtones, and drones that point to the direction of his subsequent work; "Boston III" was recorded with Rhys Chatham (flute, voice), Martin Bough (tenor saxophone), and Gregory Reeve (viola, voice).
 

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Phill Niblock-composer


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Edition of 300 copies in digipak sleeve, including an 8-page booklet with photos and liner notes.

UPC: 769791985780

Label: Alga Marghen
Catalog ID: NMN 175CD
Squidco Product Code: 34455

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: Italy
Packaging: Digipack w/ booklet
Recorded in NYC and Boston, between 1969 amd 19 72.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Boston/Tenor/Index presents for the first time some of the earliest works by the American composer Phil Niblock, including the three never before released "Index" (1969), "Tenor" and "Boston III" (both from 1972), thus making it possible to discover Niblock's starting point as a composer. Until now, it's been impossible to encounter Niblock's compositions from earlier than the '80s, a reality thankfully rectified by the long overdue publication of this Boston/Tenor/Index, now on CD from Alga Marghen.

"Tenor" (1972) represents the first evolution of Niblock's musical thought towards the aesthetics of microtones, overtones, and drones which the composer would develop in following decades. The piece was recorded by the photographer Martin Bough on tenor saxophone and gradually dubbed back and forth by the composer in his New York studio. The audio materials activated in "Tenor" through technologically de- and re-composed sounding textures, became a vehicle for those sound anomalies that would determine Niblock's audio poetics. Performing gestures are deconstructed though disseminating and editing processes by the imperceptible gestures of the composer.

With its smooth flowing structure, "Boston III" (1972) stands at the very beginning of this illusion. It was recorded at the Intermedia Sound studio in Boston with Rhys Chatham (flute, voice), Martin Bough (tenor saxophone), and Gregory Reeve (viola, voice); the composer himself also contributed with his voice.

"Index" (1969) is an improvised sound performance by the composer himself. The listener is lucky to listen to the movements of the artist's fingers hitting a guitar string and the soundboard in breathtaking tempo. The piece itself represents early minimalism in its virgin state, untouched by distancing technology. Guitar (both its body and strings), fingers and fingering fuse in a vehement action around which barely listenable sounds and resonances vibrate. This CD also includes "Boston I" (1972), or the first chapter of the "Boston" series. This 25-minute bonus track is less massive than "Boston III," but this version is much richer in dynamics and presents a more recognizable voice of each instrument. The music changes according to the loudness of playback. The interaction of the upper harmonics changes especially, with much richer overtone patterns being produced at louder levels.

The CD includes a bonus "Boston I" (1972) compared to vinyl edition, it's the first chapter of the "Boston" series. This 25 minute bonus track is less massive than "Boston III"; still this version is much richer in dynamics and presents a more recognizable voice of each instrument."-Alga Marghen


Edition of 300 copies in digipak sleeve, including an 8-page booklet with photos and liner notes.

Artist Biographies

"Phill Niblock is a New York-based minimalist composer and multi-media musician and director of Experimental Intermedia, a foundation born in the flames of 1968's barricade-hopping. He has been a maverick presence on the fringes of the avant garde ever since. In the history books Niblock is the forgotten Minimalist. That's as maybe: no one ever said the history books were infallible anyway.

His influence has had more impact on younger composers such as Susan Stenger, Lois V Vierk, David First, and Glenn Branca. He's even worked with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo on "Guitar two, for four" which is actually for five guitarists. This is Minimalism in the classic sense of the word, if that makes sense. Niblock constructs big 24-track digitally-processed monolithic microtonal drones. The result is sound without melody or rhythm. Movement is slow, geologically slow. Changes are almost imperceptible, and his music has a tendency of creeping up on you. The vocal pieces are like some of Ligeti's choral works, but a little more phased. And this isn't choral work. "A Y U (as yet untitled)" is sampled from just one voice, the baritone Thomas Buckner. The results are pitch shifted and processed intense drones, one live and one studio edited. Unlike Ligeti, this isn't just for voice or hurdy gurdy. Like Stockhausen's electronic pieces, Musique Concrete, or even Fripp and Eno's No Pussyfooting, the role of the producer/composer in "Hurdy Hurry" and "A Y U" is just as important as the role of the performer. He says: "What I am doing with my music is to produce something without rhythm or melody, by using many microtones that cause movements very, very slowly." The stills in the booklet are from slides taken in China, while Niblock was making films which are painstaking studies of manual labour, giving a poetic dignity to sheer gruelling slog of fishermen at work, rice-planters, log-splitters, water-hole dredgers and other back-breaking toilers. Since 1968 Phill has also put on over 1000 concerts in his loft space, including Ryoji Ikeda, Zbigniew Karkowski, Jim O'Rourke."

-Phill Niblock Website (http://phillniblock.com/2007/06/14/biography-photos/)
7/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Boston III 25:22

2. Tenor 13:14

3. Index 7:45

4. Boston I 25:03

Related Categories of Interest:


Compositional Forms
Electro-Acoustic
Sound, Noise, &c.
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