Barre Phillips

Etchings in the Air

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

This encounter between Japanese mystic guitar/hurdy gurdy/percussion and voice demon Keiji Haino (leader of the power rock trio Fushitsusha) is a free for all of textured noise and plucked and bowed notes -- screaming, yelling, hollering, and percussion-like sounds that have nothing whatsoever to do with rhythm. In fact, to be perfectly honest, it is quite difficult to find a language in which to review a music that has no linguistic precepts at all. When Haino is screaming to Phillips' overtures, he pushes past them, since Phillips can often be subtle and textural. When they are both vocalizing and Haino is employing percussion as a counterpart, it all comes across as a mutant counterpoint. When Phillips is playing his bass with tender arco work, then Haino seems to collapse, fall back, and growl menacingly in low tones. Ultimately, this work is neither good nor bad and cannot even be evaluated as free improvisation. There is so much listening going on, expression is all but absent. This is an exercise in learning to communicate, and communicate it does, but I'm not sure just what it is.

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