Christian Marclay

Acoustiphobia, Vol. 1

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This two-disc set is actually two separate albums. The first is a live recording made by an ad hoc trio consisting of turntablist Christian Marclay, percussionist Ikue Mori (on drum machines), and guitarist/saxophonist Elliott Sharp, all of them mainstays of New York's downtown avant-garde scene. The second is a compilation of 20 compositions by students at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' Sonic Arts program, where Sharp, Marclay, and Mori have all been visiting artists. Both discs are rewarding, each in a different way. The first disc is a treasure simply because new material by any one of these three artists is always worth hearing; improvising together, they create soundscapes that are by turns eerie, amusing, dense, and pointillistic. Sharp's approach to his instruments is completely unbounded by any traditional considerations, and the noises he produces are otherworldly; Marclay is a pioneering virtuoso of turntable manipulation, skilled at using the decks to take familiar sounds and twist them beyond recognition; and Mori spends at least as much time using her drum machines to produce pitches and textures as to produce beats. Somebody needs to get the three of them into a studio, and more than once. The student pieces on disc two are, understandably, a bit less consistent, but there are several distinct high points, such as Luke Walker's very lovely "Selma" and David Matorin's ingenious and beautiful "Clock Phase." These are highlights, but everything on the second disc is worth hearing. Highly recommended.