124

Craig Hilton and Tomas Phillips: Le gout de neant

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Craig Hilton and Tomas Phillips: Le gout de neant According to its sleeve notes, the opening track of Le goût de néant, "Sans mouvement I," is a studio recording of Craig Hilton playing solo guzheng, a multi-stringed Chinese zither with movable bridges. This is remarkable, as it does not sound like one person playing a solo instrument; the resonances produced by the guzheng create the impression of a many-layered, drone-like sound collage—one which is very pleasing, bearing resemblances to some of Brian Eno's slowly-evolving, ambient pieces. Had the entire album continued in the same way throughout, it would have been extremely satisfying.

But instead of leaving that opening track to stand on its merits, on the album's other three tracks Hilton and Tomas Phillips use its solo guzheng music as source material which they treat and enhance with layers of sound. So "Sans mouvement II" open with waves of a swooshing sound—reminiscent of sea shells being washed by waves—before the guzheng music gradually enters; other underlying sounds gently ebb and flow beneath it, giving the piece a dynamic quality that saves it from too closely resembling a new-age soundtrack. The piece closes with the same swooshing sound that began it, creating an appealing symmetry.

The prolonged title track, the album's longest at almost 24 minutes, has no obvious connection to Baudelaire's poem other sharing the title. Compared to the other three similarly-titled tracks, it sounds rather different due to Hilton and Phillips employing less organic and more industrial sounds—clinking, clanking, clattering, scraping—to offset the tranquility of the guzheng, with interludes of undulating sustained tones again creating a drone effect. After a pregnant silence, the last four minutes of the track slowly build tension before bringing it to a well-rounded conclusion with some treated guzheng.

The concluding track, "Sans mouvement III," again features treated guzheng, this time slowed down to provide an effective low frequency rumble that underpins the piece. Over the top of it are added higher frequency sounds—crackles, vibrations, fizzes, ringing, sines waves—which contrast well, making a full, rich soundscape. Fittingly, the track—and album—concludes with the tranquil unadorned sound of the guzheng.

This is a beautiful album and one of the year's best, being easy to listen to repeatedly without becoming easy listening.

Track Listing: Sans mouvement I; Sans mouvement II; Le goût de néant; Sans mouvement III.

Personnel: Craig Hilton: guzheng, laptop; Tomas Phillips: laptop.

Title: Le gout de neant | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Absinth


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Antenna" CD/LP/Track Review Antenna
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "avantNOIR" CD/LP/Track Review avantNOIR
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Ziljabu Nights - Live at Theater Gutersloh" CD/LP/Track Review Ziljabu Nights - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "The Beautiful Day" CD/LP/Track Review The Beautiful Day
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.