When Freezing Air Stings Like Ice I Shall Breathe Again

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Appropriately for an album with this title, Freezing Air is RLW's quietest collection, composed largely of brilliant, high-pitched drones evocative of cold, clear skies and frozen earth. He has stated in interviews that this album was composed from a single set of parameters, which were sometimes applied to pitch, sometimes to rhythm, so perhaps the album's coherence comes from this common material (even though its workings are not apparent to the listener). Some of the pieces evoke acoustic instruments sounds like a work for percussion and tape, where the overtones from bells and cymbals phase transparently into the high-pitched drones, reminiscent of Stockhausen's masterpiece Kontakte; and "Unworn Cellophane" could easily include source material from gamelan and an acoustic bass. But just as often, the accompanying material is metallic and electronic in nature, such as on "Pierre." The album opens very quietly, nearly silent for the first three minutes, and only at the beginning of "Waving Goodbye" are there sounds that edge into the louder part of the spectrum, as if calling the listener to attention who may have drifted off during the previous murmurings. The references to Henry and Stockhausen, as well as the use of drones and quieter sounds, make this album an excellent introduction to RLW's work.

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