Saturday, 21 November 2009

This Way - Bruce Gilbert

Courtesy of Mego Editions, Gilbert’s first solo album gets its debut domestic CD release. Most of this was commissioned for choreographer Michael Clarke, but you may dance to in your head, if you wish.
The 'Do You Me? I Did/Swamp' pieces begin peacefully with an angelic chorus backing waves which lap the shingle beach of a digital shoreline (!?) whilst, somewhere out there, a whale may or may not be calling through the depths of space. I was reluctant to mention whales in case you got the impression that this is akin to an ambient New Age record designed for relaxation. But those do sound like whale calls.
The next two parts develop into something more sinister, moving to a sluggish beat as sounds snake from ear-to-ear (you must listen in headphones) and it begins to come across as some kind of Rave nightmare where the normal ecstatic rush becomes a battlefield in sonic trenches pounded by heavy artillery whilst you’re half-asleep. Fantastic.
'Here Visit' sets up a mesmerising pattern that’s punctuated with looped violins in preparation for the final sensory assault that is 'U, Mu, U'. The rhythm intensifies for this deranged dance, as if Gilbert is driving out the demons of old Art Rock.
Like any sensible person, he ditched the guitar for the endless sonic possibilities of technology. His roots, after all, were in sound experiments during the late-60s before, aged 30, embarking on that successful interlude known as Wire.
So he finally returned to his source. Perhaps Wire were never enough, musically, but they gave him the platform from which to launch a series of sometimes stunning solo works such as 'Ab Ovo', 'Insiding' and 'In Esse'.
The quarter century mark seems as good a time as any to start at this beginning and catch up on stages of an absorbing journey.

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