Boomkat Product Review:
Phill Niblock brings half a century of work in prism-pushing minimalist composition to a pair of towering Organ pieces performed by Hampus Lindwall and Emanuel Schmelzer-Ziringer, and recorded in 2007 + 2019.
His ‘Music For Organ’ surely arrives at a high zeitgeist moment for organ music - like his younger counterparts, Phill has keenly worked at the radical peripheries of whatever instrument he uses, systematically isolating and highlighting its phenomenological peculiarities and often subverting their context. However, as a son of the pivotal late ’60s era, Phill is also a true autodidact and applies a rigorous, if raw, approach to his music that always generates gripping, and often challenging, results, as heard here.
The A-side’s ‘Unmounted / Muted Noun’ (2019) for organ and 4 pre-recorded tracks was commissioned by Musica Festival Strasbourg for Hampus Lindwall and recorded in the composer’s presence. It appears to feature the organist stacking dense blocks of chords into a blinding black mass of roiling harmonics that do not let up until the runout groove. For 24 minutes the piece sustains a breathless pressure that’s either hellish, ecstatic or simply otherworldly, depending on your disposition, and we can only imagine that the Orgelbau Klais organ must have made it feel like the walls of the C.15th Collégiale Sainte-Waudrau church in, Mons, Belgium were about to crumble.
In stark contrast, the B-side’s ’Nagro (AKA - Organ)’ (2007), for organ and tape, performed by Emanuel Schmelzer-Ziringer at the Joseph Gatto organ (1787) in Sankt Kirchberg Am Wagram, Austria, feels much more pent in its transition thru tight, glistening higher registers. Up there, the piece feels out a fine range of tonalities and harmonic spectra, which, while dominated by the pealing highs, is also fleshed out with rolling low end in a seat-edge but heavy-lidded display of never-resolved tension.