John Duncan / Michael Esposito / Z'EV ‎– There Must Be A Way Across This River / The Abject

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Spirithorn

Spirithorn

January 11, 2012
referencing There Must Be A Way Across This River / The Abject, LP, Album, Ltd, [FRAG20]
Aquarius Records
Really fucking spooky! Of course, we wouldn't expect much less from John Duncan, whose sound research specifically seeks out the most intense of psychological states. As the most infamous case, Duncan's Blind Date performance piece tells of his presumed experience with necrophilia as a masochistic ritual for depositing his last seed in a dead body before undergoing a vasectomy. While the audio documentation of Blind Date is cold and precise in what it says, Duncan neither confirms nor denies any of the details beyond what is told in that recording. It could have been a fabrication; but he plants the idea that he *might* have broken the most significant taboo of human civilization. Since then, Duncan's psychological research through sound, visual art, and performance has become far more sophisticated in approach and content. For example, there's his convoluted Pynchonesque album Our Telluric Conversation with CM von Hausswolff, and there's the masterful recapitulation of the sounds from the Stanford Linear Accelerator into The Crackling - a cavernous, sublime electric chorale which magnify the smallest of particles into massive discordant drones.
There Must Be A Way Across This River was a performance / installation that Duncan presented inside a refrigerated basement at a performance hall in Bologna, where he presented a slow-developing soundtrack of arctic drones layered with darkly vibrating shortwave patterns, whispered declarations from Duncan himself, and these strange violent bursts of electronic noise. While he never stated this to be the case, we wonder if he demanded that the audience be naked, as he has done for a handful of his other claustrophobic, black-box performances. That might have been even too cruel for Duncan! The sounds of There Must Be A Way Across This River are relatively subtle for Duncan's catalogue of work, but they are darkly evocative, eerie, bleak, and ominously threatening. Another very strong piece in his ever impressive body of work.
The flip side of the record is a strange collaboration between Duncan, Z'ev, and the EVP hunter Michael Esposito. Originally, Esposito, Duncan, and the medium Heidi Harman set out to make recordings in Duncan's childhood home outside of Chicago. Despite making arrangements with one of the occupants at the house, they were refused
access, all the while Esposito was recording their conversations. During those recordings, 18 EVP invocations occurred, one of which addresses Duncan by name - an allegation that Harman confirmed through her own psychic contact. These 18 invocations were then given over to Z'ev who manipulated them into a suitably frightening set of interwoven drones and spectral undulations. If that particular EVP citation of Duncan's name is on these recordings, Z'ev has thoroughly eradicated the syntax into a slippery, ectoplasmic sound. It's one of the best things we've heard from Z'ev outside his kinetic percussive assaults, and rounds out a terrifyingly great piece of wax!
Spirithorn

Spirithorn

January 11, 2012
referencing There Must Be A Way Across This River / The Abject, LP, Album, Ltd, [FRAG20]
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VITAL WEEKLY
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number 794
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week 34
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JOHN DUNCAN/MICHAEL ESPOSITO/Z'EV - THERE MUST BE A WAY ACROSS THIS RIVER/THE ABJECT (LP by Fragment Factory)
A double bill here, twice Michael Esposito working on one side with John Duncan and on the other with Z'EV. How exactly on the side with Duncan is a bit unclear, as all the credits are to Duncan. Maybe Esposito supplied him with some of his EVP recordings. Duncan uses voice, feedback and shortwave radio. Part of it was used in a performance. A spooky haunting piece here. The voice has a ghostly sound, like unclear mumblings, occasionally leaping into feedback, while the shortwave isn't barely noticeable. I haven't heard much from Duncan in recent years but this is a great piece, not to be played in the dark if you are afraid of such things. On the other side Z'EV uses 18 'EVP invocations', totaling thirty seconds, stretching them out over eight tracks, which I guess is these days a more common technique for Z'EV when it comes to solo studio work. These 'EVP invocations' were recorded by Esposito in John Duncan's childhood home (to tie matters together, conceptually) and make up a likewise haunting piece of time stretched vocal sounds. Haunting but as haunting as the other side. This is more common ground in the work of dark atmospheric music. Common but likewise a great piece of music. A fine ghostly, disturbing nature is behind both of these pieces. Excellent and pleasantly spooky. (FdW)