Furt's music keeps on getting better. Two years after their first release on Evan Parker's Psi label (and their fourth album overall) comes Omnivm, a truly stunning performance. Dedicated to Iannis Xenakis, Omnivm is a CD-length piece commissioned by the University of Durham for the 2005 Musicon Festival. This version is an assemblage from two performances (Durham, March 9, 2005 and Belfast, April 25, 2006). The relation between Furt and Xenakis is easy to establish: the master's electronic music featured the same kind of frenzy and brutality. Developed during a residency at the University of Durham's electronic studio, Omnivm is a performance piece in the course of which Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer shift their focus from one group of sound samples to another. In this particular realization, four such centers of interest are explored: gamelan sounds, distorted voices speaking various languages, sounds from an analog synthesizer, and the free improv trio of Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton. The performance is continuous and the shift is gradual from one main sound source to the next, with previous and future centers of interest always remaining in the picture. This architecture brings thematic unity to the 78-minute piece, which in turn makes the uninterrupted stream of sonic information somewhat easier to digest. As with any Furt piece, the pace is frantic, with dozens of sounds being thrown at once. Barrett and Obermayer do not work with loops. Their pieces do not unfold slowly; they race onward, jerk around, and assault you with heaps of sound events, letting you sort through them. It remains an exhausting listening experience, but this time around it all seems to make more sense. In any case, it is easier to get carried away by Omnivm or "Dead or Alive" than by the duo's early albums. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture