Los Angeles-based composer and guitarist Greg Headley began in a relatively
traditional vein of guitar experiments, as documented on the
cassette Improvisations For Electric and Acoustic Guitar,
but quickly mortgaged his musical roots to invest into electronics and noise.
Each of his first three albums signaled a new stage on this process of
personal de-contextualization: the solo tabletop guitar meditations a` la Kevin Drumm of Adhesives (Bake, 2000), still rooted in his guitar techniques,
the more abstract manipulation of guitar sounds of A Table of Opposites (28 Angles, 2001),
and finally the noisy, frantic electronic soundscapes of Similis (28 Angles, 2002), which hardly related to the instrument anymore.
Each stage involved an expanded range of timbres and a more confident
exploration of the space around them.
The guitar is even less relevant on his fourth album,
A Bulletin on Vertigo (28 Angles, 2003), nine computer pieces that
construct living sounds and then let them evolve in their artificial environment.
This is actually a less abstract art than on the previous album.
Night Blooming and The Water's Fall radiate very dynamic and organic textures. The focus is on a flow of events, rather than a patchwork of colors.
There are similarities with the schools both of digital glitchy minimalism, of
repetition and gradual evolution, and of old-fashioned musique concrete,
and, in a sense, Headley is scouting for the "middle way" between these
three cardinal points (respectively, silence, cosmic sound, ordinary sounds).
Headley briefly flirts with rhythmic effects in This Too Is Unknown,
but stops short of entering the fray of post-techno music.
If the program is occasionally too indulgent with the composer's "pet sounds", as in Coated In Dust and A Technical Rewrite,
and sometimes returns to the abstract chaos of the previous release (Through The Door),
elsewhere it does achieve an intense emotional state: the
ominous drones roamed by chirping aliens in Drawn From Memory
and Subliminal Motion evoke a dramatic atmosphere reminiscent of Brian Eno's Before And After Science (needless to say, the "after" is more relevant here).
All in all, a worthwhile release that, while not being terribly innovative,
considerably increases Headley's standings in an already crowded scene.
It Can Leave It Must Leave (28angles, 2005) is a less inspired
take on the same ideas.
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