Phil Kline

Kline: Glow in the Dark

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Phil Kline likes boomboxes. While clearly building on the precedent setting mid-'60s work of Steve Reich with his pieces "Come Out" and "It's Gonna Rain," Kline has fashioned his own low-tech but complex sound world. Generally, he will set into motion 10 to 25 tapes at roughly the same time, allowing the slight differences in tape player speed as well as human imprecision to generate all manner of feedback and staggered overlays. This can create dense walls of noise that still retain something of the character of the original. A major disadvantage of recorded media, however, is that one loses much of the pure and startling acoustic phenomena experienced during a live performance. For example, in "Chant" (also known as "Whole Lotta"), Kline loops Robert Plant's line from "Whole Lotta Love," "Woman, you," and adds it to itself over ten boomboxes. The original single line becomes subsumed in wave upon wave of self-copies, eventually becoming an almost featureless tornado of sound. Most of the other works operate on similar principles, albeit with varying sound sources, including string orchestras and harmonicas. One composition, "96 Tears," breaks the mold, dispensing with boomboxes and utilizing electric guitars played with e-bows instead, producing a haunting meditation that, as near as one can tell, owes nothing to ? and the Mysterians. The limitations of recorded reproductions rob Kline's music of enough of its power that Glow in the Dark can be recommended more for the ideas involved and only to get the merest inkling of its visceral nature when experienced live.

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