Veteran minimalist Phill Niblock has been making up for lost time over the last seven years, releasing more music than in his first six decades on the planet. He uses a computer rather than a tape machine these days, but his basic style hasn’t changed: capturing original sounds (from open-minded musicians like George Lewis, Jim O’Rourke, and Ulrich Krieger) and superimposing them to create long-form drones rich in harmonic overtones. For “Parker’s Altered Mood, aka, Owed to Bird,” from last year’s 3-CD set Touch Three (Touch), Niblock recorded Krieger playing each of the 13 notes that comprise the theme from Charlie Parker’s “Parker’s Mood” for 15 seconds each, then repeated the sequence six times. The layering produces fascinating acoustic phenomena like beating, where sonic interference results in hypnotic, undulating waves of sound. It’s simple on the surface, but if you concentrate, microscopic movements reveal a gorgeous level of detail.
At 8 PM on Friday, April 20, Niblock will give a free concert at the Gahlberg Gallery at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm providing the source material. The performance is in conjunction with a gallery show of Niblock’s video and film work, which runs through May 26. (There’s an opening reception on Thursday, April 19, from 6 to 8 PM.)
Phill Niblock, “Harm” (excerpt)