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Label & Cat.Number: Alga Marghen NMN 173LP
Release Year: 2023
Note: *Alga Marghen returns with what might just be their most historically significant release to date, “Boston Tenor Index”, comprising three, never before released compositions - “Index”, from 1969; and “Tenor” and “Boston III”, both from 1972 - by Phill Niblock, that represent some the earliest works in his catalogue to have ever appeared..* [Soundohm]
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €20.50
More InfoBoston/Tenor/Index, presents for the first time some of the earliest works by the American composer Phill Niblock, including three never before released pieces: "Index" (1969), "Tenor," and "Boston III" (both from 1972). Until now, it's been impossible to encounter Niblock's compositions from earlier than the 1960s, a reality thankfully rectified by the long overdue publication of this Boston/Tenor/Index LP on Alga Marghen. "Tenor" (1972) represents the first evolution of Niblock's musical thought towards the aesthetics of microtones, overtones, and drones which the composer would develop in following decades. The piece was recorded by the photographer Martin Bough on tenor saxophone and gradually dubbed back and forth by the composer in his New York studio. "Boston III" (1972) was recorded at the Intermedia Sound studio in Boston with Rhys Chatham (flute, voice), Martin Bough (tenor saxophone), and Gregory Reeve (viola, voice); the composer himself also contributed with his voice. The LP also includes "Index" (1969), an improvised sound performance by the composer himself. Guitar (both its body and strings), fingers and fingering fuse in a vehement action around which barely listenable sounds and resonances vibrate. Considering the extended pulsation as an organic blend of impulse, rhythm, drive, strength, vitality and passion, the end of this sole solo in Niblock's complete oeuvre is not defined by the fixed duration of the piece but as the consequence of the tiredness of the performer. The music changes according to the loudness of playback. The interaction of the upper harmonics changes especially, with much richer overtone patterns being produced at louder levels. Edition of 450 copies, including an insert with liner notes and photo.
"Alga Marghen returns with what might just be their most historically significant release to date, “Boston Tenor Index”, comprising three, never before released compositions - “Index”, from 1969; and “Tenor” and “Boston III”, both from 1972 - by Phill Niblock, that represent some the earliest works in his catalogue to have ever appeared.
Truly stunning in audio terms, and an absolute revelation toward understanding how Niblock arrived where he did a few short years down the road, it’s easily one of the best things we’ve heard all year.
Over the course of nearly three decades of activity, the Italian imprint, Alga Marghen, has continuously cast light into the shadows of historical sound practice, offering particular focus to underappreciated artefacts at the juncture of visual art, sound-art, experimental music, and sound-poetry. With each subsequent release, the label has helped to reform our understanding of the 20th century, and the voices that made it what it was. Over the years, they’ve brought forth an unprecedented range of early and archival material by seminal composers like Charlemagne Palestine, Walter Marchetti, Philip Corner, Henri Chopin, Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Max Neuhaus, Eliane Radigue, and numerous others. While surprising to think, until now they have yet to touch upon the towering legacy of Phill Niblock. Their latest LP, “Boston Tenor Index”, takes a deep dive into some of the earliest work ever released by the American composer, comprising never before released works three works in his catalogue, “Index”, from 1969; and “Tenor” and “Boston III”, both from 1972. Creatively striking, while casting crucial light on Niblock’s beginnings as a composer, it’s a truly remarkable body of sound and easily among the most important archival releases that we’ve encountered so far this year.
After roughly a decade of working as a filmmaker and photographer, during the late 1960s, while collaborating with the Judson Dance Theater in New York, Phill Niblock embarked upon a new career as a composer. Over the coming decade, he would begin to slowly assemble a singular body of works that layered microtonal drones - meticulously recorded from acoustic instrument - that culminated as some of the most remarkable gestures of tape collage and musical minimalism to appear during the second half of the 20th century. With a small number of exceptions, the earliest of these to appear as albums - “A Trombone Piece”, “A Third Trombone” (“Nothin To Look At Just A Record”, 1982); “Second Two Octaves And A Fifth”, “First Performance” (“Niblock For Celli / Celli Plays Niblock”, 1984), "P K", "S L S", "P K & S L S", "Winterbloom Too" (Four Full Flutes, 1990) - were composed and recorded during the late 1970s. Until now, it’s been almost impossible to encounter Niblock’s compositions from earlier than that period, a reality thankfully rectified by the long overdue appearance of the works that comprise “Boston Tenor Index”.
We jumped for joy when we saw this one announced, and are still overjoyed, numerous listens in. Alga Marghen has done us a great service with this one, bringing some of the earliest known pieces by Phill Niblock to our ears. As far as archival releases go, "Boston Tenor Index” is as good as it gets and as essential as they come. A revelation of the highest order." [Soundohm]
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