(Pogus)

A great album by Nick Didkovsky, who confirms year after year that he deserves to be ranked among the finest contemporary American composers besides being the “angular bad man” of modern guitar. “Tube Mouth Bow String” features him together with the Sirius String Quartet (well known to Doctor Nerve fans for their participation in “Ereia”) and Barbara Benary, financing our needs of complex if intelligible music with four jewels. “She closes her sister with heavy bones” is a gracious elegy for strings and clean-tone guitar, somehow reminiscent of Fred Frith’s work but with a slightly diverse harmonic tissue that renders the piece absolutely magnetic. This flows into “Machine core”, where Didkovsky’s six-stringed emissions are modified by a computer that beats them to a pulp of looped and mangled distorted utterances. The title track is the highest emotional point of the whole CD, being scored for string quartet, talk boxes and harmonizer pedals: it’s an awe-inspiring tapestry of anguishing glissandos and vocally modified slow progressions, sort of a kinder version of Tony Conrad meeting a horde of Tuva singers that try to perform while listening to Roland Kayn, Christoph Heemann and Gloria Coates in their walkmans. A stunningly beautiful piece, one of the best that I’ve heard in years. The same radiance is to be found in “What sheep herd” for string quartet and computer, which in its 21 minutes introduces a good degree of freedom in its loop-based simultaneousness; to these ears, its sounds like a meeting of Carl Stone (circa “Mom’s”) and La Monte Young on a huge seesaw, soundtracked by genetically modified string players executing a raga in front of a placid sea during a moon eclipse; but, as always with Didkovsky, some of the lines, especially in the low register, alter the general stability in surreptitious manners. This and the previous piece are alone worth the effort of grabbing a copy of this disc, which is closed by “Just a voice that bothered him”, originally written for the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet and, in this version for string quartet, sounding like the final moments of an angelic creature’s life, frail harmonics and gasping notes as the last weak exhalations of a fading energy.

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