(Ants)

As it (too often) happens, death comes creeping through to snatch geniuses from the fingers of our enjoyment. A case in point is the late Hugh Davies, composer, instrument builder and improviser whose extremely fanciful electronic music is finely represented by this welcome release, containing five compositions where evocative force is often inversely proportional to the scarcity of means committed to and manipulated on tape, especially in the extraordinary “Natural images”, a tale of plastic breadbins and doll squeakers becoming whale songs and snarling wolves, a piece putting Davies right there with the Henrys and the Ferraris of the world: try to listen to it with a modicum of external noise, just to understand this composer’s deep relationship with “environmental awareness”, probably his main feature as a sound artist. Don’t overlook the efficiency of the remaining documents, though, as they include experimentations with the Fairlight and synthesizer-cum-digital delay soundscapes (the otherwordly “Vision”, where at times one believes to hear a belltower in a full-speed washing machine). As David Toop rightly says in the excellent booklet, too bad that Davies is not here anymore to help new generations of sound artists with his experience; for them – and for every serious listener – this outstanding collection comes highly recommended.

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