(KwanYin)

Clive Bell is always a treat when it comes to new approaches to traditional instruments, and a true master of the shakuhachi for that matter. This CD, which risks to be buried under an undeserved coat of mystery given that it’s not exactly easy to find (here goes a tip of my hat to Yin Pin, label honcho, who gracefully sent me a bunch of releases including this one), sees the English improviser lending his abilities to Richard Scott’s processing. Let’s make it perfectly clear: this is not a “Bell with delay and reverb” kind of a record. Scott thinks in instrumental fashion with his machines, capturing the essence of the partner’s flute and building from it, or deciding instead to rape that very wooden soul by transforming its purity in the asphalt of a highway that leads to mesmerizing positive hollowness, an engrossing alternance between gigantic “chords” made of harmonized pitches and ever-mutating shapes where the shakuhachi starts with its regular timbre but soon morphs into some sort of quavering extraneous propagation. The overall sound is ominous in traits, luminous quite often, engaging throughout, taking possession of the listening environment with firm levity in a cross of extreme dissonance and disciplined stretching of unknown harmonies. Beautiful, in a word – and worthy of being tracked down.

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