John Wall

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Alterstill Review

by Dean McFarlane

The first in British composer John Wall's beautifully designed series on the Utterpsalm label, this limited-edition CD comes in a card-booklet slipcase. Housed inside is an aggressive and disorientating series of sample-based works, like a contemporary classical suite, although some of the chosen sample material is fairly unorthodox, such as Carcass; the power of the metal group is used to great effect juxtaposed against samples of contemporary classical, musique concrète, and free improvisations from the outer regions of 20th century music. Sample sources range from Scelsi, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and company through to European free improvisation, black metal, and '70s Krautrock. John Wall's compositions sit nicely alongside the works of Rioji Ikeda, or some of the contemporary musique concrète from the French Metamkine CD series. Erik M, John Oswald, and Oval are all points of reference, although John Wall's vision and process is unique. Few artists work with the attention to detail -- from production through to packaging and presentation, the work is beautiful. Rumored to have spent literally years making albums, it is easy to believe when hearing the complexities of the fine electro-acoustic transformations.