Derek Bailey

Incus Taps: Solo Guitar 101-104

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This CD reissue of Derek Bailey's original reel-to-reel recordings --they were made by Bailey as an early attempt at D.I.Y. marketing, in that they were made and sold individually on quarter-inch tape on three-inch reels and sold in three-and-a-half-inch boxes -- is a wonder. While it's true that Bailey had made earlier records of his experimenting with his atonal language, these pieces (all of them brief, all called "Taps," and all numbered from 1 a to 4 c) represent his first fully developed microcosmos of his reinvention of the guitar, particularly the electric guitar as an instrument for improvisation. Like Anton Webern before him, Bailey approached the construction of his language with two things in mind: a radical, compressed atonality that would literally squeeze the power from music onto the grooves of a record or into the performance space, and mixed, relentless extremes of timbre and dynamics. The "Taps" are all articulations of Bailey's newfound linguistic power on the instrument, and offer no explanation for their outrageous departure from his earlier work (1971's Incus 2) in their aggressive approach to the underlying structure of dissonance and attack. For the uninitiated, a few selections might be enough at one sitting -- so completely alien is this music to anything like it before or since. But for the Bailey fan, these recordings will come as a welcome addition to the library and a wonderful representation of a criminally under-recorded period in Bailey's development.

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