SIMON JAMES PHILLIPS: Blage 3 2xCD Mikroton
This is a recording of Phillip’s installation that was to span a mighty five hours (unbeknown to the audience). Luckily, this album has been condensed into 2 discs clocking in at a measly 1hr 40 or thereabouts; as I would have cried in despair if it was the full affair (although the extended version is available as a download for all masochists out there).
The difficulties in carrying a concept like this onto CD are obvious. An installation usually works for a good reason, be it audience participation or accompanying visuals; and without an added video mpeg of some sort, a vital ingredient to this production is most likely lost on such a release.
Musically however, there is much to be enjoyed should you have the patience. Swelling ambience and looping piano fall over layering drones, airy pads and bleeping electronics. Jazz instrumentation and percussion makes an appearance later in the act and is a welcome pinprick on the sonic bubble the listener is encased within.
Overall, I have to applaud Phillips for his accomplishments here. Orchestrating an ensemble over such a time span takes some doing; even more so when it is a cohesive as this. Is this an album I will play again? No. But I will tip my proverbial hat at the quality of musicianship on offer and the balls it takes to put something like this together.