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.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Absinth


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by John Kelman
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Pineapples and Ashtrays" CD/LP/Track Review Pineapples and Ashtrays
by James Nadal
Published: May 8, 2016
Read "Sounds Of 3" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds Of 3
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "The Duo - Live!" CD/LP/Track Review The Duo - Live!
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 2, 2016
Read "Free for One" CD/LP/Track Review Free for One
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 15, 2016
Read "Being Playing" CD/LP/Track Review Being Playing
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: April 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!