Nicolas Collins

Sound Without Picture

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Voice and electronics experimentalist Nicolas Collins has created, with the help of trumpeter Ben Neill and the Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, a work of startling beauty and fickle sonances. Armed with a gaggle of effects boxes and toys, seven scores with texts by everyone from Vladimir Nabokov and Susan Tallman to Collins himself, he creates a music that derives somewhat from the minimalism of early Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but is more lyrical even as it is electronically altered. Some of the pieces here, such as "Still Lives," were recorded live for radio broadcasts, while the majority of it was conceived in a recording studio in Germany. No matter, Sound Without Picture holds together as one work with many voices, all of them read and breathed life into by Collins, who knows his territory. One gets the impression that for Collins it is no longer a question of discovery, that is taken for granted in that no one is doing what he is anyway, but more about expression and presentation of these combined elements. There is nothing here harsh or disturbing, though its tones and noises may be dissonant and even atonal. Through sonic manipulation and a keen sense of timing and musical "sense," Collins has moved toward a kind of ethereal yet physical beauty that proves that electronic music is as organic as anything else. This is truly a beautiful recording, which is exquisitely sequenced and orchestrated.

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