Boomkat Product Review:
Gnarled brilliance on Bill Nace's most absorbing album to date; a torched buzz of spirit scrapes and unexpected harmonic shifts that actually deserve the "psychedelic" tag. Using unusal instrumentation and tape edits, Nace touches the expressive realms of Yellow Swans, Halim El-Dabh, early Fennesz, and even Harry Bertoia for a session that’s both terrifying and transcendental.
Since the early 2000s, Nace has cropped up across a wide spread of the US fringe's most grotesque and brilliant recordings. He's worked with Chris Corsano (as Vampire Belt), Kim Gordon (as Body/Head), Aaron Dilloway, Leila Bordreuil, John Wiese, Joe McPhee and many many others, and after decades of activity his solo material is still somehow sailing in uncharted territory.
On ‘Through A Room’, Nace doesn't discard his usual guitar-led methodology completely, but focuses his attention on the taishōgoto, a 20th century Japanese instrument invented by Gorō Morita that combines the mechanics of the typewriter with a stringed instrument - almost like an autoharp. Using a Quelle est Belle bird caller, doughnut pipe (a reeded instrument similar to the medieval shawm), hurdy gurdy and his usual tape setup, Nace develops a sonic topography that's unlike anything he's made before.
2020's ‘Both’ album was a proof of concept - subjecting guitar to Nace's patented "looped-and-screwed" formula, and on "Through A Room" he propels a new set of reverberations into the process, manipulating each sound into a kind of rugged, bristling coherence. The work is very much in the spirit of early tape music, from Egyptian composer Halim El-Dabh's defining experiments to the GRM studio's crucial developments, but Nace breathes new life into the processes that give his compositions a basement noise resonance - a faint, twanging wyrd-rock whisper, woven around distorted brass , drawing the mind away from the cacophony towards a flutter of something rare and distant.
On 'E:E', discombobulated theremin-like warbles recall Bebe and Louis Barron's jaw-dropping "Forbidden Planet" soundtrack (incidentally the first electronic tape music made in the USA), but Nace's restraint and control of saturation and overdrive re-plants these sounds into the precarious and overcrowded contemporary landscape. 'Crooked Teeth' is even more pointed, with tape-looped instrumental groans that ping-pong thru the soundfield, in a way that sounds like MBV’s ‘Touched’ faded into oblivion, gradually snowballing into white noise.
The most stunning point is 'Ann', a long-form composition that gusts from haunted, echo-f*cked bird calls into metallic chamber drone, sounding like Vladimir Ussachevsky let loose on Harry Bertoia's sound sculptures. Nace fully outdoes himself on this one, ushering us into the most obscure spaces and unsettling us at every turn, in a way most beatless/drone/ambient whatever numbing music de jour resolutely fails to tap into 99 percent of the time. In other words, real inspiring gear.