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William Hooker: Live At Sangha

Ernest Barteldes By

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Full-fledged improvisational music can be hard on the ear, but it can also be amazing if you're openminded enough to listen carefully. In that state of mind, I paid a visit to The Kitchen on October 6 to catch drummer William Hooker performing with Text of Light, an ensemble that included Ulrigh Krieger, Alan Licht, Christian Marclay, and Lee Ranaldo.

With two guitars, one turntable, saxophone, and drums, the continuous set was a cacophony of feedback and extraneous sound effects that even included someone placing his finger on one end of a guitar cable and playing around with the usually irritating results. In the background, Stan Brakhage's 1974 film Text of Light was projected on the screen.

On The Gift, a live album recorded last year in Maryland, Hooker is joined by Jason Hwang on violin and Roy Campbell on flute and trumpet. On this sixty-minute, one-track album, the three musicians don't seem to have been as loud as Text of Light was—the lack of electric instruments may have been a factor—and as a result, the music sounds simpler and rawer.

As Campbell performs a flute solo somewhere in the first half hour of the record, Hooker embarks on an Afro-like accompaniment which resembles the sounds of Brazilian Indians in the Amazon. Hwang contributes by filling in some bass sounds. (There is no way of knowing whether there was a bass around—it could have been an octave pedal.)

Campbell also hooked up one of his microphones into a wah-wah pedal, and the result is strange and amusing at the same time. At a certain point, Hooker takes over and plays a lengthy drum solo, later being joined by the other musicians.

It is hard to listen to Live at Sangha without the visuals to go with it, including the physical way the players perform and whatever kind of additional media they might use. The album provides a good document of the show, but nonetheless it's a poor substitute for the real thing.

Track Listing: One continuous track of improvisational music.

Personnel: Roy Campbell: trumpet and flute; William Hooker: drums; Jason Hwang: violin.

Title: Live At Sangha | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Bmadish Records

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