Anthony Burr & Skuli Sverrisson - A Thousand Incidents Arise
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Anthony Burr & Skuli Sverrisson
A Thousand Incidents Arise

Although many people may not recognize their names upon first glance (I have to admit that I didn't), Anthony Burr and Skuli Sverrisson have worked with a ton of amazing musicians over the course of the past twenty years or so. Burr is one of the world's foremost bass clarinetists, while Skuli has played bass alongside some greats. Some of those names include Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jim O'Rourke, David Sylvian, John Zorn, La Monte Young, and many others. The duo has worked together on projects for the past ten years, and their last release Desist was a stark disc of minimal electronics in which the only sound source was electrical circuit feedback.

A Thousand Incidents Arise is a release that moves in a direction completely opposite of that. While the release is still somewhat minimal, it's about as far away from stark as one can get, with soft production that's inviting as a cabin in the woods. In a change from the harsh source of their previous album, this time out, the instrumentation is all acoustic, with bass clarinet by Burr mingled with acoustic guitars, organs, field recordings and bass guitar. The result is four long tracks that average about twelve minutes apiece and just ebb and flow without much of a beginning or end.

"We Shall Be Sure Of Not Going Astray" blends some quiet strummed guitar with sustained organ chords as multiple layers of clarinet create a billowy cloud that partially obscures everything. In places, each instrument sort of has its moment to creep out of the haze, but then fades back again before letting something else take its place. "Change Is Far More Radical Than We Are At First Inclined To Suppose" is even more deliberate, stretching out multiple layers of sustained notes on the clarinet to create something melancholy and sighing. "The Divine Principle As A Sphere Turning On Itself" moves in many of the same ways, substituting organ tones for a couple of the layers while the clarinets keep wheezing away.

Given that the duo has worked with Alvin Lucier and La Monte Young, the extreme stasis in their music shouldn't come as a surprise. The final track of "Except In Memory" brings in a bass guitar for a little movement (that has some similarities to the superior first track on the album), but overall this is an album that revels in small shifts in timbre and other slow-moving evolutions. In some regards, their work reminds me of the great Swedish trio Tape (at times), but the work of Burr and Sverrisson is even more drawn-out and open-ended. If you're a serious minimal ambient drone fan, you might want to check this out, but others will probably want a bit more to latch onto.

rating: 610
Aaron Coleman 2005-12-08 20:54:56