Thomas Dimuzio: Balance (Gench, 2020)

November 8, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Thomas Dimuzio: Balance

Longtime synth alchemist Thomas Dimuzio has collaborated with countless figures from throughout the world of experimental music, in concert and on record. This triple CD collects choice bits from dozens of collaborative performances from 2009 to 2019, with each disc arranged by configuration. Disc one is all duos, and fittingly enough, it’s the most minimal of the three. Much of these pieces are dark drone of some sort or another, from the haunted electro-acoustic of “Gnomon” with Blevin Blectum, full of tiny shreds of voices, to the shifting sci-fi throb of “Yesterday Died and Tomorrow Won’t Be Born” with Greg Bielski (Easy Bake Oven). “Ideal Cycle” with Xopher Davidson (Antimatter) is sort of a cosmic acid rain air raid, then the almighty Wobbly turns up on “Voluntary Limit”, which starts out with blasts of shredded Booper noise before dissipating into the cold night air. His Negativland bandmate The Weatherman pops up in the intro to the following “Directions From Hangar 23A”, giving a legal station ID for KPFA, where the session was (with Lori Varga) recorded. The track is another eerie one filled with scattered voices, wild oscillations, and some strangely comforting ding-dong audio logo tones near the end. “Collecting Particles Under a Dying Sun” with David Molina (Transient) takes things in a different direction, with gentle guitar repetitions and a distant clanging rhythm, later shuddering and whirring to a close. The second disc focuses on trio collaborations, adding an extra dimension to the pieces: mangled guitar strings, momentary bass pulsations, bird chirps, extra sizzles. Wobbly returns, this time with Alan Courtis of South American legends Reynols, and it’s one of the spaciest pieces here, with a few bursts of electricity pushing it in one way or another, and some whirling guitar loops at the end. Joseph Hammer and Rick Potts, prominent members of the highly influential Los Angeles Free Music Society, contribute trails of piercing, squidging guitar noise to “Fluorescent Brown”. Both members of Matmos go into improv mode and play around with skeletal hi-hat rhythms and glitchy oscillations. The track with Aurora Josephson and Chandra Shukla (and actually a few others) is more of an industrial doom trip, before it levels off into floating, meditative vocals. The one with Alexandra Buschman and Angela Edwards is weird because it’s filled with garbled distorted tones and then there’s these sudden loud but comforting bursts that are sort of like the very beginning of “Let’s Go Crazy” and even though they aren’t harsh or noisy, they’re still super jarring when they come at you. This is definitely not easy music to fall asleep to. With the last disc, two or three musicians accompany Dimuzio, and these edge closer to free jazz-like improv, featuring more acoustic instrumentation than the first two discs, starting with a noisy, sax-shredding piece featuring Chuck Bettis, Nick Didkovsky, and Michael Lytle. Scott Amendola and Phillip Greenlief particularly shine with the whirling drums, fluttering woodwinds, and muffled voices of “Paging Rubber Chickens”, which ends up turning into a Zorn-like rage-skronk, but with extra smoldering electronics. “We Are Water” (with Emily Hay and Motoko Honda) is one of the more joyful moments, with expressive vocal acrobatics and busy pianos underscored by electronic fuzz. A bit more startling a performance art-like is “I’m One of ‘Em” (with Shelley Hirsch, Thea Farhadian, and Gino Robair), which has a few violent interjections (“You woke me out of my nightmare!”) and crooked, creaking violin. At the end, “The Talisman of Market Street” (with Scott Amendola, Jon Evans, and Ava Mendoza) ventures into more groove-based (but also heavily spacey) electric jazz improv.

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