Domestic & Public Pieces (1975-77)

Derek Bailey

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Domestic & Public Pieces (1975-77) Review

by François Couture

This CD, the first released by the British free improv label Emanem upon its resuscitation in 1995, collects solo guitar pieces by Derek Bailey from three LPs released between 1976 and 1988. The music itself was recorded privately in January 1976 (the first eight tracks) and March 1977 (the last one, "Happy Birthday to You"), and publicly in May 1975 (the eight tracks titled "First," "Second," etc.). The domestic pieces feature mostly his work on six-string acoustic guitar. They are delicate examples of his unique technique and aesthetics. On three of them he talks while playing, commenting on the demise of "Unity Theatre," where the London Musicians' Collective used to produce concerts, or narrating strange stories about "The Lost Chord." The sound quality falls down a notch on the public pieces. Here, Bailey works mostly with his amplified guitar with dual volume pedals. The way he throws notes around, fades them in, and cuts them out adds to his alienating vision, and illustrates the level of virtuosity he had reached. "Third" and "Fourth" represent a break in that night's performance, featuring his 19-string guitar along with amplified thundersheet and a crackle box (Michael Waisvisz' hand-held electronic device) passed around in the audience. "Third" is particularly painful: Controlled and uncontrolled feedback marred the performance. A tape recorder suddenly starts playing from out of nowhere, prompting Bailey to play (you won't believe this) chords! This one is horribly recorded but turns out quite funny. Domestic & Public Pieces is a good document of the guitarist's solo activity in the 1970s, and it makes a nice companion to Fairly Early With Postscripts.

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