Full Stop

Charles K. Noyes

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Full Stop Review

by Brian Olewnick

Percussionist Charles K. Noyes was a very active member of the downtown New York avant scene of the late '70s and early '80s, performing with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, and Fred Frith, before retreating from view during the '90s. Full Stop provides a fairly full picture of what he was up to, compiling solo works recorded from 1990-1999. The overall mood is a bleak and harsh kind of ambient music, soundtracks for a barren, desensitized landscape but one that holds more than a hint of mystery. Percussion as a rhythmic element is almost entirely absent here. Instead, Noyes utilizes a range of processed sounds, strings, electronics, and the occasional musical saw to produce sonic pictures that might be described as the Eno of On Land in a particularly morose and misanthropic mood. Most of the pieces have a metallic undertone to them, but not one of high gloss. Rather, one can almost smell lubricating oils and ozone, as though one is sitting next to an old power plant out in the desert. Every track here is evocative and, while sticking within a generally similar approach and feel, each retains a uniqueness that allows for enough differentiation to make for new experiences on subsequent listenings. Gritty and unflinching, Full Stop is as fine a collection of "tough" ambient music as was released in the '90s, and is highly recommended for those with a taste for the bitter.

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