John Duncan


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Most of John Duncan's works immediately preceding this one (The Keening Towers, Phantom Broadcast, Infrasound -- Tidal) are somewhat static in overall sound and architecture. Tongue breaks that mold, offering a wide dynamic palette and adopting a more eventful demeanor. On paper, but only on paper, this work comes closer to Da Sich die Machtgier..., which featured the processed voice of Asmus Tietchens. This time around, Elliott Sharp seems to have provided the basis of the work -- "seems," because very few details are given. Sharp is credited with voice and processing. Some sounds do hint at a vocal nature (especially in the early moments of the piece); then again, knowing voice is involved, the listener tends to interpret any growling or moaning sound that way. Duncan is credited with shortwave, voice, and processing. The result is a finely tailored 67-minute piece, laid down across seven tracks. Sounds are mostly abstract and range from electronic pulses and quiet pitched drones to white noise textures and complex events. The pace is rather slow and insistent, with quickly introduced vehement sections and a more contemplative finale. The piece doesn't draw as much emotional involvement from the listener as The Keening Towers or Palace of Mind, but it doesn't let go of one's attention either. It generates a wide array of mental images, while keeping the listener firmly seated on a single hourlong ride. Elliott Sharp's followers can expect to be confused, as this album strays far from his already unpredictable usual output. Fans of Duncan will find in Tongue one of his most rewarding albums of late.