(Psi)

No regular brain can pretend to be able to absorb the thousands of rapid changes of scenery that this incredible piece presents in over 77 minutes at a first try. “Omnivm”, whose title derives from one of the infernal visions of writer Flann O’Brien, is a four-part acousmatic wonder by the duo of Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer, who created a “composite” of two live performances to give birth to this beguiling million-headed monster. The composers speak about “four centres of gravity” around which the piece moves; these are formed by sounds of gamelan instruments, distorted voices that speak in different languages, an analogue synthesizer and the playing of Evan Parker, Barry Guy and Paul Lytton. At the beginning of the second movement, a “forgotten Xenakis sound” is also featured, in a sort of homage to one of Furt’s greatest influences (read the CD booklet for details). The unbelievably quick, yet totally intelligible hypermutation of the sources gives the music a head-spinning quality that, absurdly in a way, often becomes the reason of a tendency to physical relaxation; after the first approaches, I even tried listening to the CD while reading on a train and it worked fabulously. This happens – at least in my case – because the perceived sounds are quite familiar in their extreme variety and, modified or not, are all part of an alternative conception of music that probably belongs to the ones who are not afraid of radically changing their listening perspective when necessary. Although there is not a single peaceful moment throughout the album, every percussive eruption, warped voice or instrumental alteration seems to be placed right there where it’s needed but incidental at one and the same time. This intelligent method of mixing spontaneity and pre-designed hypotheses is the very reason of “Omnivm”‘s value, and at the moment in which I’m writing I can’t remember a more interesting recent release in this genre. Shuffle play without the need of pushing the shuffle button. Amazing.

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