John Wall

Constructions I-IV

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English composer John Wall has carved himself a unique niche on the experimental scene, situating his work at an unusual nexus where the worlds of free improvisation, contemporary composition, and sampling meet. As a general rule, he uses the real-time improvisations of live musicians (a superb quintet here), takes their product, and integrates it with samples from various sources, from composers such as Xenakis and Birtwistle to other improvisers like Evan Parker. This enormous array of sounds is then subjected to his substantial skill at both paring down and molding them into freestanding compositions of deep structure and great, if mysterious, beauty. While the contributions of the live musicians are often, although not always, recognizable (even if they've been sliced 'n' diced before commitment to disc), the samples tend to be worked over enough that only the most ardent fan will suspect the vague snatch of strings that just whooshed by had its nascence in Kagel or Penderecki. The technical means fall swiftly by the wayside, however, in the face of the breadth and complexity of the final product. Wall's music sounds like no other, possessing an amazing degree of delicacy while at the same moment wielding enormous power. The pieces have a naturalness of form that belies their post-production origin. Listeners who enjoy both the often rarefied world of non-idiomatic free improvisation as well as the mathematical wonderland of Xenakis owe it to themselves to discover Wall's extraordinary universe. Highly recommended.

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