Phil James

Already Gone

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With Already Gone, Sparkling Beatnik-owner Phil James offers his first music to the public in over 15 years. James plays a wide range of instruments on this record, from traditional woodwinds (Native American flute and the Japanese shakuhachi) to turntables and electronics. Already Gone is made of six untitled "variations", ranging in length from five to nine minutes. The thread holding these pieces together is the sound of human breath, used in different ways throughout the album. James plays with unusual sound, tuning and scale encounters, blending elements from Native American, Indonesian, Japanese and modern cultures, although it is clear that these are not borrowed for cultural reference but used because of their musical qualities. The music is very reflexive, with drones, soothing flute melodies coming across plaintive harmonium flooring and voices heard in the distance. Even the third variation, almost entirely played on turntables, achieves a strange organic state. One small downside to the album: the last variation (also the shortest) contains a disruptive synthesizer sound that simply doesn't blend in with the rest of the work. But Phil James succeeded in giving a breath of life to this rich and surprising music.