(C3R)

A pleasing surprise comes from this deceptively unassuming CD by Jesse Stewart, whose areas of interest deal with the creation of fascinating timbral shades via the engineering and percussion of found materials. Stewart recorded nine tracks, which he organized in three major “elemental cathegories” – water, metal and stone – using a vast range of self-made instruments that he’s able to control until they emit sounds that are interesting at worst, and very beautiful in some instance. The most fulgid example in this sense is “Hand to blade”, a great piece based on his fingers tapping over a circular saw blade, a process – says Stewart – that is both painful and explorative of the limitations of the instrument and, in this case, of human resistence to hurting. But the beautiful gong-like resonance of this track won’t make you think to pain, rather to something like self-control and management of nervous reactions. Other notable moments see Stewart hammering canoe paddles with mallets (with excellent precision, one would say) in a pseudo-Gamelan setting, or filling big shells with water in order for them to gurgle and murmur very nicely. Rolling mechanisms, rattling stones and metal bars are at the basis of the remaining tracks, each one shining of a straightforward attractiveness that, considering the album as a whole, gives Jesse Stewart’s music a hint of seriousness, clearly discernible under the apparent simplicity of his methods. Highly recommended ear-cleansing, likely to be appreciated by fans of sound sculpture and installations.

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