Christopher Riggs and Carl Testa: Sn (Gold Bolus, 2015)

February 20, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Christopher Riggs and Carl Testa: Sn

Christopher Riggs and Carl Testa: Sn

This CD documents a 40-minute improv session recorded at the intimate Firehouse 12 venue in New Haven, CT, right near my hometown, Hamden. Riggs plays prepared electric guitar and Testa processes it live, warping it far beyond the already highly unconventional manners in which Riggs plays it. I have to admit, previous Riggs recordings that I’ve heard just sounded too discordant to me and I couldn’t really enjoy them, but this recording sounds great. I think the fact that it’s an actual CD rather than a cassette might help. Apparently there’s a 5.1 Surround version available to download, which probably sounds even more mindblowing, if you have that kind of audio setup (I don’t). But anyway, the duo conjure up a multitude of bizarre sounds and then push them further out into space. Given that there’s only one instrument being played, it gets very sparse and then explosive and wild, with various scrapings, rumblings, and pluckings in between. At times there’s some harsh viola-like bowing, and some manic squiggly tones, and even some moments when it sounds like some lost voices are in the mix. Near the end it starts to imitate some exotic animal cries, with a cloud of effects giving it a haunted rainforest feel.

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