311

Okkyung Lee: Nihm

By

Sign in to view read count
Each of the ten tracks on Okkyung Lee's debut album sounds completely unique. Yet as Lee's cello and Doug Wieselman's clarinets fade away together—and Tim Barnes' and John Hollenbeck's percussion, mixed with Ikue Mori's electronics, rattle in an at times magical, at times frightening clamor—each track opens into the next with complete ease. Nihm undulates between psychological mayhem and organic serenity.

As a composer, Lee has the fearless ability to conjoin myriad textures, creating pieces of music with scarce melody but profound atmosphere. The opening track "On A Windy Day features the simple ringing of chimes against a low drone, which culminates in a clamoring orgy of steel and aluminum before yielding to the tribal echo of the hand drum. The visual movement of the piece is striking as the musicians create the sonic equivalent of a storm brewing.

A moment of passion is followed by calm on "Story of You and Me as Lee laces a deeply resounding ribbon around the delicate plucking of Shelley Burgon's soothing harp, but then "Anything You Say, Anything You Don't Say briskly arrives, resembling a relationship gone awry, or a mind gone askew. Sylvie Courvoisier culls rubbery, broken sounds from the strings of her piano that seem twisted by madness, while creaking, shattering noises fall all around. Thus begins the deranged apex of Nihm.

Wieselman's long clarinet tones attempt to quiet the psyche with "Returning Point, but spots of whirling whistles and soft cymbals add dashes of vibrant disarray to the tune's serene backbone as it leads into the strangest part of the album: "Home. This Korean children's song is an ethereal, space-less atmosphere created by Mori's extremely high-frequency electronics. Piercing sheaths of noise cut through the gentle piano passages and echoing electronics that resemble the microscopic sounds of the insect world. On "Deep Blue Knot, dense musical configurations result in violent texture as villainous cello combines with the ceaseless crashing of drums.

And then the album achieves serenity. Content in her solitude, Lee's solo cello breathes big on "Sky. For the final track, "Tuesday Morning, she links up with Wieselman's clarinet for a calming duo. Their contrasting tones enhance each other's impact, as mate can do to mate in the symbiotic world of planet Earth.

Track Listing: On a Windy Day; That Undeniable Empty Feeling; Story of You and Me; Anything You Say, Anything You (Don't) Say; Returning Point; Home; Deep Blue Knot; Closed Window; Sky; Tuesday Morning.

Personnel: Tim Barnes: Percussion, Drums; Shelley Burgon: Harp; Sylvie Courvoisier: Piano; Trevor Dunn: bass; John Hollenbeck: percussion, drums; Okkyung Lee: cello; Ikue Mori: electronics; Doug Wieselman: clarinet.

Title: Nihm | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Tzadik


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Life and Other Transient Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Life and Other Transient Storms
by John Sharpe
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Seaside" CD/LP/Track Review Seaside
by John Eyles
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Lucille" CD/LP/Track Review Lucille
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "3rio" CD/LP/Track Review 3rio
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Second Act" CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "The Chase" CD/LP/Track Review The Chase
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 16, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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