Monday, April 21, 2008

Zach Wallace - Empty & Full

I discovered this in a very roundabout way. I have Keith Fullerton Whitman & Greg Davis's collaboration Yearlong, which made me do some research on Davis, which lead to me finding out about Sun Circle, his collaboration with Zach Wallace, which lead me to the label that the self titled CD came out on, Lichen Records, where I found this here cassette tape, Empty & Full by Wallace. But hey, that's how we find out about things, right? Research? Wandering around the internet, surfing from one site to the next? I guess it's just special this time because I can remember specifically all of the steps I took to get there.

Ok, so here's the problem with this one. I'm not really sure how to review it. It's hard to judge because it's a demo of some sort. I think. Well, let me just take it directly from the Lichen website. "WINE GLASSES PLAYED BY ZACH WALLACE. ORIGINAL SOUND STUDIES FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A GIANT GLASS ARMONICA, SINCE BUILT, BUT YET TO BE RECORDED. THIS WILL HAVE TO DO FOR NOW."

What this is, is wine glass drone (a new sub-genre?). I have no idea how many wine glasses are being played, but let me assure you it's quite a few. It sounds exactly what you'd expect it to sound like: super high end and very hypnotic. There's hardly any variation, it's very static. He doesn't go from playing one full glass to an empty one but rather they're all played simultaneously and continuously. No dips in volume, few shifts in pitch. However, that's not to say it's not layered, on the contrary. With so many different glasses, there are so many different notes to hear. Sometimes I'll end up focusing on just one particular glass, listening to it dip back and forth, from one side of the glass to the other.

As this is a "sound study", though, it's not a perfect recording. Occasionally there are background noises, like perhaps a car horn followed by a door closing, that always seem to occur at the same intervals. This may or may not be evidence of some looping, but either way, it hardly detracts from the glass drone. This is a fantastic short piece of work and I really look forward to a possible recording of the full blown "giant glass armonica." I'm sure it would be even more enthralling.

This was released on cassette tape by Lichen Records in a limited edition of 20. Each sleeve is hand numbered and it looks like the cover design is hand painted watercolor. Very appropriate and very recommended.

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