Out And About With Alp

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The music on Roger Horberry (a.k.a. Alp)'s second album is consistently both pretty and interesting, but when you know how it was made it becomes truly fascinating. The sounds from which this album is built were all recorded in the streets of Amsterdam, which Alp had noticed were much quieter than those of London. He noticed that the general hush made individual sounds -- such as those of a bicycle passing or a busker playing a steel drum -- stand out more noticeably, and he wondered if he could use recordings of those sounds to produce something beautiful in the studio. The answer was yes, as this very enjoyable album demonstrates. The first half of the program is the most effective. The lead track, "Artis," is the one that seems most forcefully to belie its origins in street sound; if anything, it sounds like gently edited synthesizer chords that slowly float through a logical but languid progression. "Brug" is quieter still and more abstract, and "Dok" is much the same, though a bit more ominous in its general mood. With "Markt," things get just a bit too quiet and too abstract; you'll be wondering if something is wrong with the CD player by the time you actually hear a sound, and then you'll strain your ears trying to catch the remaining nine minutes of the track. "Oost" is similarly vague, but much briefer. "Tropen" closes things with an eerie tone cluster that swells and repeats spookily. It's not for everyone, but Out and About With Alp" will be just the thing for fans of early Jon Hassell or Morton Feldman.