Greg Hamilton

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There are two levels to this album, as it has been released in two different versions by the same label and under the same catalog number. It first came out in January 1999 as a collection of piano solos by Greg Hamilton. Recorded by Sam Dellaria and Adam Sonderberg, the pieces showcase a gifted improviser -- sensitive, usually restrained, and tonal (think of the grace and wit of Erik Satie), but capable of stunning outbursts of atonal violence. Ernesto Diaz-Infante's solo piano albums (Ucross Journal, Solus) come to mind. In June 2002, Hamilton reissued the album, but this time the pieces have been loaded into a computer, edited, and reassembled into new works. The level of hiss on the master tapes (this was a lo-fi recording) makes some of the edits pretty obvious. In other places, one simply wonders. This twist, only hinted at in the liner notes but divulged in Longbox's press release, pushes the album up to sound art status, the same way Koji Asano's Celeste and You Can't Open the Door Because It's Already Open are not just piano solos. After nine short pieces, the album closes with an 18-minute organ solo, a microtonal drone study that has little to do with what preceded it. One thinks of the 1960s American minimalist movement (John Cale in particular). Sound quality and conceptual ambiguity don't make this album an easy adventure, but perfect if you like riddles.