Since its inception in 1966, the cooperative group AMM has been uncompromising in its commitment to freely improvised music. Often, especially early in its existence, this resulted in a harsh, aggressive sound field, one that even the most inquisitive newcomer might have difficulty approaching. By the mid-'80s, perhaps due to the mellowing that comes with age or the addition of pianist John Tilbury, AMM's music took a turn toward the quieter, more contemplative music evidenced on this release. In fact, Newfoundland, in addition to being one of their finest albums, is also one of the easiest entries not only into AMM, but into electro-acoustic improvisation in general. For this live recording, AMM consists of its founding members, Keith Rowe (guitar and electronics) and Eddie Prevost (percussion), in addition to Tilbury. The disc is a single, 77-minute piece in which the group constructs a breathing, evolving sonic space, ranging from the quietest whispers of softly brushed cymbals to raging electronic maelstroms, all sounding unforced and flowing. Tilbury, well known as one of the world's finest interpreters of Morton Feldman, inserts surprisingly melodic fragments into the proceedings, leavening the more severe sounds emanating from Rowe's guitar (which never sounds like a guitar) and Prevost's percussion arsenal. When, late in the piece, Rowe tunes in a radio program, it somehow sounds perfectly appropriate; it is the exact accent needed at that point. While this recording is a must for fans of AMM or freely improvised music in general, it is also one of the best possible introductions to the genre.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick