Friday, May 21, 2010
Bill Dixon, Aaron Siegel, Ben Hall - Weight/Counterweight (Brokenresearch, 2009) *****
Take this fantastic double vinyl LP for instance. Dixon is joined by Aaron Siegel and Ben Hall, both on percussion, although that's much said, they use percussion instruments to create ring tones, bells, scraping sounds or regular percussive actions. Dixon's trumpet is modified with delay, but always with voice.
The album, with its thick cardboard sleeves, and heavy 220 gram vinyl, is a pleasure to keep in your hands, and it's actually the only weight of the album. The music itself, is light as a breeze in its form, with sounds that sometimes barely create ripples in the silence, with zen-like punctuation and formless precision, yet full of substance and power.
That is the absolute mastership of this album: like a Japanese ink drawing, a few brush strokes are sufficient to evoke everything that needs to be said, a world by itself, creating an incredible memory imprint and listening experience, going well beyond just an aesthetic exercise: Dixon has never been non-committal, and that's how he sounds, he goes deep with every note, because every note matters. Nothing is gratuitous. Because that would be disrespectful to music. Some of his sounds are sweet, some sad, some full of spiritual expansivenes, but some create hair-raising horror, as in the last piece of the LP. You never know, and despite the minimalism, there are a wealth of unexpected things to hear, keeping your ears chained to each sound, as it evolves into a new one, with the tension between the two almost tangible.
And kudos to Siegel and Hall: their restraint and refined creation of context is absolutely fabulous.
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