Rarely has an album title been so evocative of the music it contains, especially in experimental music. A palace conjures up the image of a huge construction with many rooms of wide proportions, high ceilings, echoing halls, and maybe even cavernous undergrounds. Now make it a metaphor of the human mind and you will have an idea of what this CD by John Duncan and Giuliana Stefani can feel like. "Palace of Mind" is a continuous 50-minute piece of electronic tones, ethereal drones (wind? voice?), and treated shortwaves. It is structured in a succession of interconnected movements, or chambers. Each room holds its particularities in terms of proportions, resonance, and timbre, but one clearly senses they all belong to the same structure. The atmosphere gradually changes as one leaves a room to enter the next, keeping the sound level relatively constant (except for the beginning and end of the piece). The shortwaves and some controlled feedback contradict the feeling of acoustic space, introducing instead the idea of electronic (or neuronic, if you follow the "mind" metaphor) space. The duration of the piece is not excessive; dynamics and new textures abound even though it all remains rather soft-spoken. In short, it makes a great inner journey and deserves the listener's undivided attention. Strongly recommended. Palace of Mind was released in an edition of 1,000 in somber but beautiful embossed paper packaging.
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