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Tim Feeny/Vic Rawlings, "In Six Parts"

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cover imageThis collaboration between cellist/electronics wizard Rawlings and percussionist/mixer Feeney lays out its agenda immediately on the first part:  swelling, high pitched sine waves that pierce and barely relent.  However, for the listener willing to endure the harshness, there is a vast array of subtleties to be found.



In this first track, a subtle click of percussion emerges from the din, which begins to shift in pitch and channel, bouncing from left to right.  It is a cruel joke on the part of the artists, because the shifts mimic hearing loss.  I caught myself pausing the track and taking off my headphones, just to make sure.  The shrill tones become a recurring motif throughout, coming up a bit more moderated in the second part, and yet louder and more piercing in the final piece.

The artists appreciate the lower frequency tones as much as the higher ones, as the second, third and sixth pieces all feature a massive sub-bass rumble that will give woofers a workout.  A lot of the other sounds are far less easy to describe however.  The wet rattling and cloth ripping sounds towards the latter half of the disc are among the oddest I have heard in recent memory, and though I know a treated cello makes up a sizable portion of this disc, I'll be damned if it is recognizable on too many of the tracks other than the fifth one.

Throughout the entire disc there is an alien, yet organic sense to the tracks that propels the listener towards the final, long piece that combines the previous punishing tones, occasional bursts of noise, and pulses of the previous pieces into a grand finale, with the addition of percussion treated to be a massive industrial roar.  Not industrial in the genre sense, but in the cavernous warehouse full of dying machinery sense. 

Feeney and Rawlings have made a disc that is purely of the beard stroking academic variety, and I doubt either of them would take offense to it being called such.  However, a degree from INA-GRM is not required to appreciate the sheer variety of sounds and subtle textures that are on this album.




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