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Zeena PARKINS

Between The Whiles

Label: Table of the Elements

Format: CD

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One of the world's most creative harpists, Zeena Parkins has contributed her inimitable playing style to the work of artists like Bjork, John Zorn, Yoko Ono,Sonic Youth and Matmos, whilst also recording a number of wonderful solo albums (including the timeless Nightmare Alley) and a couple of Phantom Orchard collaborations with electronics guru Ikue Mori. What most immediately sets Parkins apart from her peers is a roving appetite to look beyond the ordinary constraints of her instrument. While she's an accomplished classical musician, Parkins tends to treat her harp as a sound generating machine with near limitless possibilities, intertwining its natural timbres with amplification, heavy effects and electronic processing. As Table Of The Elements put it: "Zeena is the Jimi Hendrix of the amplified harp". From the outset, Between The Whiles finds Parkins developing a complex and often very noisy soundscape: 'Glass' begins with the quiet swill of water before various layers of bell-like tones fire up; it all sounds like it's been generated from a glass harmonica, with Parkins generating drones by rubbing wine glasses. The piece quickly accumulates a cluster of brittle, sparkling sonorities, leaving an ethereal jumble of sounds. 'Vibratory' is an entirely different proposition however, firing up with deep, bassy harp runs that begin to crumble and fragment, ultimately erupting in jolts of noise and hacked-up feedback. From this harsh, freeform soloing style, 'Inyoufrom' cleans up and arrives with less bluntly manipulated sounds, at times bringing to mind flamenco-style flurried string plucks, and at others evoking a kind of angelic Derek Bailey solo. Sara Parkins joins in on a couple of tracks, notably contributing violin to the excellent 'Gold' - an exquisitely crisp electroacoustic piece that also features the Thin Man Dancers providing a strange rhythmic backbone through their collective panted breathing. Clocking in at a packed hour-long duration, there's a lot to absorb from Between The Whiles - an adventurous yet very energetic experimental album that comes highly recommended. (Boomkat)
Details
Cat. number: TOE110 cd
Year: 2010