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Phill Niblock (born in Indiana, 1933) is a seminal figure in "drone" music who crosses the Downtown and Improv scenes. A characteristic of Niblock's drone style is its subtle, gradual alteration of pitch which leads one to lose a sense of "time" and draws one deeper and deeper into the sound itself. The remarkable thing is that Niblock achieves this effect by almost always using traditional acoustic instruments.
Niblock is an intermedia artist using music, film, photography, video and computers. He initially was trained in the visual arts and worked as a photographer; he takes inspiration from minimal artists, including Rothko, Judd and Andre.
He turns 70 this year and will be honored with many festivals and retrospectives of his music worldwide.
In this orchestra piece, the players read from a conventional score. There is no after-recording manipulation of the material. The recording comes from the Ostrava Days Festival in the Czech Republic, where the 41-piece Ensemble OCNM is supplemented by members of the Janacek Philharmonic.
This work was written for the KONTRA-trio. The trio (formed in 1992) of Bischof, Mejer and Bachmann concentrates on the sound of low wind instruments. The three wind contrabasses are used as sources for acoustic phenomena.
Here, the musicians recorded "samples" of the notes in a recording studio. Niblock then edited the samples, made pitch shifts of them, and combined this material in a multitrack score. There is no manipulation of the sound of the instruments, the combination of the different microtonal pitches and timbres of the instruments modifies the sound. The musicians later added "live" parts to the Niblock multitrack-mixed-to stereo recording.
The cover is an original photograph by Phill Niblock. The booklet includes an essay Robert Ashley and notes by Petr Kotik and the composer.