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Phil Minton: A Doughnut in Both Hands: Solo Singing 1975-1982

Robert Spencer By

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A Doughnut in Both Hands is a collection of material recorded in 1975, 1980, 1981, and 1982. The first fifteen tracks were originally released in 1981, as Minton's first solo album; the last six were recorded at the same time or shortly thereafter, but not released until now.

What is this, "Solo Singing 1975-1982"?

Well, I put this disc on, and Phil Minton started yelling at me: "Heheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyooooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeh!" I thought, great. Fifty six-minutes of this? But in a second he was making the slightest, most delicate sound, then going back to the yell, then some lower register sounds, and high register whinnies and whoops, all punctuated by the yell. The second track, "I Fought," sounds like an electric razor, or a gargle, or a man gargling an electric razor. The third, "Wreath," is a slowly-building squeal or cry; the fifth, "Cenotaph," is a doubled cry/scream, undoubtedly achieved not by double tracking, but by his mastery of the self-harmonizing techniques of central Asia.

What's going on here? Simply an extension of the sonic possibilities of the human voice, as the sonic possibilities of instruments have been extended in the last thirty years by a band of hearty improvisers. Minton has worked with Julie Tippett, and she shares his propensity to work in areas of pure sound; at the same time, Minton incorporates less of the conventional sounds of the human voice making music. He is staking out his own territory on these tracks.

Some of it is wrenching to hear; it sounds like a man in pain. Some of it is funny. There is no denying Minton's audacity or inventiveness. How lasting all this will be remains to be seen, but he is certainly exploring territory that will be further explored by others. A jarring, unique disc.


Title: A Doughnut in Both Hands: Solo Singing 1975-1982 | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Emanem

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