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keith fullerton whitman - Taking Away
*STRICTLY LIMITED CASSETTE-ONLY EDITION OF THIS AMAZING HOUR LONG ALBUM - 10 COPIES BACK IN STOCK!* Of late, there's been a great deal said in the mainstream print media about the resurgence in popularity of the cassette as a format. The new Dirty Projectors album on Domino is being given the tape treatment, offering a welcome alternative to the narrowed dynamic range and pristine inertness of all things digital. Labels like Digitalis have been steadily keeping the medium alive for years though, releasing music whose natural home is on lovingly hand-assembled, limited edition cassettes. This new album from Keith Fullerton Whitman is already sold-out-at-source, and copies are a scarce commodity, but anyone familiar with such Whitman gems as Multiples and the sublime Playthroughs will know that this man's electronic compositions are among the very finest of the age, and well worth pouncing on. A studious observance of academic experimental music colours Whitman's career, and even when he's dabbled in very contemporary aesthetics, you always get a sense of where this music fits within the broader historical context of the genre. Taking Away is no exception to this. Spread across two 32-minute sides, the piece surveys the timbral range of a vintage modular synthesizer, embarking upon a steady-handed foray into luscious analogue drone furnished with complex and carefully sculpted melodic forms. The first side is the more minimal of the two, spouting morphing expanses of tonality, laden with fine detail and occasional spurts of acoustic guitar; it's a compacted and beautifully made piece of music, rewarding patience with a glorious overflow of vintage sounds. The second side continues in the same spirit as the first, but this time those big, rotund drones are dropped in favour of intricate harmonic exchanges. Ponderous intervals between bell-like tones characterise the earliest stages before a greater density begins to accumulate, leading up to a midway dirge of tweeting modulations and layered gurgling oscillation. Eventually, sustaining pitches take hold once again, and the final phase of the side takes on a monolithic quality that's a fitting conclusion to such a stately and imposing piece of work. On Taking Away, Whitman transports you back in time to the formative years of electronic music, suggesting the output of composers like Edgard Varese or Eliane Radigue in his discerning manipulations of the electronic signal, and the results are utterly enthralling. No loitering with this one, it won't be around for long.... ESSENTIAL PURCHASE