Tim Barnes

All Acoustics

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Percussionist Tim Barnes has a history of playing with experimentally minded folk like Jim O'Rourke, Ikue Mori, and many members of Japan's free improvisation scene. That he would release a solo percussion album as his first independent venture isn't surprising. What catches one off guard is how "drum-like" most of the recording is. Many improvising percussionists tend to emphasize as many long tones as possible to induce in their instruments, de-emphasizing the purely rhythmic aspect and concentrating on making their arsenal sound as unlike a set of drums as possible. Barnes instead (aside from a stroked cymbal here and there) insistently strikes and taps his wares, and if the rhythms aren't exactly regular, tempos are often strongly implied. He's very concerned with textural colors, rarely settling into one particular area for long, always varying his attack. This approach has its plusses and minuses. While it tends to keep the pieces (both fairly long) interesting, Barnes seems content to leave a given area without, possibly, mining much of the potential interest therein. Solo drummers like Jerome Cooper have shown the rich possibilities that arise when a "limited" palette is investigated with extreme depth. On the other hand, someone like Eddie Prevost can wring enormous expressiveness from his percussion without ever sounding typically rhythmic or, often, even percussive. Barnes chooses a middle ground and, while never engaging in vapid pyrotechnics and often producing enjoyable results, one feels like he's leaving much conceptual ground uncovered. These complaints are only rendered because of the clear sense of a musician with great promise and shouldn't be taken as disparaging. All Acoustics is a good recording, far more exciting than most forays into solo improvised percussion, and perhaps lays the ground for greater things ahead.

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