CD: BVHaast 0905 [2005]
Ltd x 500

Gods Own Country
Of Gladder Flowers than Gardens Wear
A Box with the Sound of its own Making
Reiterate Paean
At Night the Silence seems to Flow
Lost in Transit
The Edge of Doom is set to the Root of all your State

From the extended subtitle, “Solo Lute Palindromes, Airfield Recordings and Electronics” replete with cover photograph of Jozef Van Wissem grasping a lute one could be easily lulled into a zone of frowning medieval regurgitations, but nothing could be further from the truth.

An urbane field recording parts curtains for ‘Gods Own Country’, an almost methodical rock rhythm on the lower register of solo lute, abounding in visceral string buzz, finger squeals, but a rhythm that develops a tableau of complexity until the melody takes on a mournful elegance with higher register notes that drive pedal point until its completion. This is no classical peristaltic forte, there’s something dark and unique in Jozef Van Wissem’s composition, arrangements not constricted by rules but evocative and experimental. ‘Of Gladder Flowers than Gardens Wear’ disturbs with minor arpeggios compounded with dissonant sounding harmonics augmenting fraying nerve endings. Subtle electronics salt and pan amidst recorded airport-like or other metropolitan surrounds with nary a lute or melody other than the swaying pulse of generated sound throughout ‘A Box with the Sound of its own Making’. Mordents mark allusions to the past in ‘Reiterate Paean’, but even this is rewired to more modern cinémavérité, where Jozef’s musical motif of palindrome truly becomes noticeable in clusters of three notes mirrored back and forth. ‘Analagon’ marks the first track integrating sparse veins of lute with skeins of sampled urbanity. With an almost Appalachian banjo hop, ‘Stichomythy’ struts to congeries of bells and hammered bones and drum, where instruments other than stringed feature prominently. The eerie terraces of ‘At Night the Silence seems to Flow’ trembles in the quiet moments, umbrageous membranes web betwixt the anxious triads a décor of uncertainty. ‘Lost in Transit’ continues the sampled sounds of a hurried modern life abutted by balls of low end rumble. Lastly, ‘The Edge of Doom is set to the Root of all your State’ summons insidious chords occluding empty spaces that may have been sources of solace. This album breathes like the air pushed through the sound hole and body of the lute like the very breathing of the animated metropolitan life and it mirrors the facets of sound reflecting evocative and emotive aspects of human existence with skillful subtlety.

Released in a simple jewel-case on textured black card with silver print, a twelve page booklet features a lengthy interview with Jozef Van Wissem in discourse on his theories of mirror and the palindrome as it relates to this album.


[Jozef Van Wissem] / [BVHaast]

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