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Bill Horist - "Lyric/Suite"

Lyric/Suite is a collection of tracks originally designed to accompany a dance piece conceived by choreographer Davida Monk from Jan Zwucky's work Lyric Philosophy, itself an exploration of the non-rational processes involved in artistic creation. Such a collaboration is familiar territory for Seattle based Horist, whose previous Pere Ubu-inspired group Phineas Gage employed elements of vaudeville and circus performance in their stage act. Alone, Horist falls back on his radically extended guitar technique to produce a collection of abrupt sound essays. Despite being composed and performed on solo guitar, a piece like "Scissors", with its chopping electronic cut-outs and sweeping bowed passages has the impact of a far larger ensemble. Elsewhere there are gentle swells of grandeur and sombre repose ("Vortex") slithering mock-western slide ("Cadence") and minimalist percussive guitar ("Nil By Hand").

     - Nick Southgate, The Wire

Generally calmer and smoother than Bill Horist's typical output, Lyric/Suite is a 13-part, 40-minute work of solo multi-tracked electric guitar. Composed to accompany a choreography conceived by Davida Monk and premiered at the Banff (Alberta, Canada) Center for the Arts in November 2002, the piece is presented here without its vocal element (excerpts of and improvisations on a text by Jan Zwicky) and thus stripped from most of its contextual meaning. What is left stands firmly on its own. The 13 short movements provide a shifting set of moods while retaining a high level of cohesion. The music consists of finely arranged stacks of looped guitars. The 3-to-4-minute format doesn't allow for over-repetition. The guitarist accumulates his layers quickly, making for some dynamic, fast-paced music. The "Overture" is surprisingly quiet and built over a cyclical motif evoking a musical box tune. The work gains momentum over the next few tracks, increasing in drive, volume and agitation. It culminates in "Gesture," the only track where Horist showcases his harsher, "noisician" side. By then, the music evokes the maniacal soundscapes of Robert Fripp, the thickness of Richard Pinhas's and the languid grace of David Torn's. Things predictably boil down over the last few tracks, although "Entropy," the longest piece at six and a half minutes, still packs several surprises, including some gritty tones and a rhythmical loop of prepared guitar. Lyric/Suite may not be the most representative item in Horist's discography, but it stands as one of the truly good albums of non-ambient multi-tracked solo guitars, along with Torn's Whatever Means Solid, Traveller? and Bernard Falaise's Do.

     - Fran¨ois Couture, All Music Guide

Experimental guitarist Bill Horist has never been known for making music that's easy on the ears. His bizarro works are challenging, intriguing, but not usually what you'd call easy listening. But this soundtrack for a dance performance choreographed by Davida Monk is Horist's most interesting, enjoyable and listenable work yet. The music suggests strange characters, like an angry muezzin from a spaghetti western or a lonely gamelan orchestra member banging a gong on a rainy street. It's still challenging, but it's his most appealing work to date.

     - Brian J. Bowe, Creem

Bill Horist - LYRIC/SUITE: A CD from Horist is always a treat... never a stagnant moment, new horizons being explored in ways your ears could never (without his help) imagine. Some of his solo guitar compositions will tease you into thinking that he's playing "normal" (for a change)... but as the initial idea expands (and flowers), he shows you (aurally) what creativity looks like - & it is not what you (necessarily) want it to be. "Lyric/Suite" is full of gentler points & angles than I'm used to hearing (on Soylent Radio, f'r'instance) from Bill, but that makes it (after 3 listens) even stranger than you thought it was (when you were listening to it). This is where the album has the most value for any listener interested in exploring the creative process, actually... though you don't realize it until (at least) a couple days (or months, depending on how well your left brain functions) later. Another total winner from Mr. Horist - I enjoyed it thoroughly, & have no doubt that those with any level of creative flow will support me in giving it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want to expand their understanding of how music happens!

     - Rotcod Zzaj,

Seattle's preeminent experimental guitarist, Bill Horist has entered the rarefied zone inhabited by six-string explorers like KK Null, Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, and Robert Fripp. Though he's capable of shredding as psychedelically as Hendrix or Sonny Sharrock, Horist more often opts to generate disturbingly alien textures and subliminally creepy motifs that deserve major screen time in David Lynch's next film. At his frequent local solo outings, Horist refuses to repeat himself; instead he improvises with an array of unlikely devices lodged under his strings that keep his emissions unpredictable and captivating. His new album, Lyric/Suite, offers yet another fascinating slant on Horist's abstract-expressionist sound art.

     - Dave Siegal, The Stranger

Horist's latest solo outing takes place in a much different context than previous releases; it was developed in 2002 for a Canadian dance performance (courtesy of choreographer Davida Monk) and recorded at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta. The differences are obvious right away: "Overture" opens the suite with lush and heavily-reverbed ambient guitar. The twelve compositions that follow are a mix of similar ambient excursions, bursts of electronics and loop-fu, and droning experiments that take advantage of the hall's beautiful sound. Most of the tracks are considerably more rhythmic (not surprising, given their composition as part of a dance routine) and droning than anything he's done before, and he gets some nice wailing feedback on a number of tracks (most notably on "Dice Dance"). I like the unnatural (yet hypnotic with repetition) figure that opens "Gesture" -- probably a backwards sample -- and the gruesome squealing and rumbling that follows. The cyclotron drone of "Doubt" is a smooth move as well. One of the most interesting tracks is the heavily rhythmic "Entropy," which builds from stark hypnobeats reminiscent of Scorn's early drum sound into polyrhythms and noise and strategic clouds of sonic effluvia. He deserves attention for this track alone, although the entire album is intriguing. This is by far my favorite Horist release; not only are the sounds themselves inventive and well-executed, this time the ghost noises and screeching are anchored to a beat, and Horist is a lot better at layin' down the beat than I would have previously imagined. Swell, swell stuff....

     - Dead Angel

Del chitarrista americano Bill Horist avevamo gia trattato in precedenza in occasione del suo splendido "Soylent Radio" che ci regalava una serie di perle avant-noise-jazz realmente notevoli. Quello che ci viene offerto ora invece sono registrazioni risalenti al 2002 per uno spettacolo di danza commissionato dalla coreografa canadese Davida Monk basato sul lavoro "Lyric Philosophy" di Jan Zwicky dove viene affrontata la componente non razionale che è insita in ogni processo creativo. Sarebbe quindi inesatto parlare di questo disco come il nuovo album di Bill Horist, considerarlo invece un'ottima occasione per far conoscenza con la parte più intima e delicata dell'autore sembra molto più appropriato. Lo spettacolo poneva quesiti riguardo la percezione ed il linguaggio ed Horist ha tradotto il tema propostogli inanellando una serie di numeri talvolta lineari, poi spezzettati ed inquietanti come una frase percepita che non vuol sapere di fissarsi nella memoria e di tanto in tanto fascinosamente ritmici come il frammento Entropy dimostra; rivelando anche un'insospettata possibile parentela dell'autore con certe brumose nostalgie dei Tuxedomoon più europei e cinematografici. L'iniziale Overture avvolge placida l'ascoltatore in una dolce atmosfera meditativa ed onirica con i suoi armonici infiniti mentre lente volute di delays ritmici fioriscono tutto intorno. La successiva Scissors è molto più vicina al lavoro normale di Horist muovendosi fra brusche decostruzioni del suono ma senza eccedere in veementi assalti, si predilige la ripetizione ritmica ed una vena melodica sotterranea ma non troppo; ombre di Snakefinger a solcare il cielo. Quando si arriva alla splendida ed evocativa Vortex si rimpiange notevolmente il non avere occasione di vedere quale sia stata la traduzione corporea di queste note azzurrissime; dispiace ma non distoglie più di tanto da un brano che sembra possibile mutazione genetica fra Neil Young e Roy Montgomery. Probabilmente il lavoro più accessibile pubblicato da Bill Horist sino ad ora ma anche forse necessario per comprendere appieno le capacità di questo splendido musicista. Dimenticavo;registrazione dal vivo e copertina intrigante. Vi occorreva sapere anche questo vero?

     - Marco Paolucci, Kathodik


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