Phill Niblock

Photo © Metod Blejec

Recorded in London on 17th February 2011.

Sethwork (extract)

American minimalist composer Phill Niblock has been active in his multimedia endeavors since the mid-’60s. His shows usually incorporate film footage (generally are long takes of non-Western people working), or other visual elements such as slides, video, and photography, often presenting more than one of these simultaneously with his music. His music itself is characterized by multiple tones sounding simultaneously for long stretches, creating a very dense, seemingly static sound. Niblock has relatively few recordings, but some argue that his music is so inseparable from whatever physical space it’s performed in, that recordings don’t do justice anyway. Nevertheless, he began curating the CD series of the Experimental Intermedia Foundation, along with David Behrman and Lois V. Vierk, to remedy this situation for himself and other modern composers. He has been involved in EIF since the late ’60s, became producer of their presentations in the early ’70s, and director of the organization in 1985. Since becoming the organization’s director, his shows have visited a number of art museums and spaces in North America and Europe, including MoMA, London’s Institute of Contemporary Art, and Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. He has received numerous grants from organizations including the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation, and has taught at the City University of New York since 1971. ~ Joslyn Layne, All Music Guide

Recording Notes

‘Sethwork’ was composed for guitarist Seth Josel in 2005 and consists of overlaid sustaining tones produced using an e-bow on an acoustic guitar. Phill selected this extract for the cylinder recording and made a special mix. The two channels from the stereo recording were separated and overlaid or overwritten onto the same cylinder. This has resulted in increased surface noise, replacing the extraneous creaking and knocking sounds from the guitar that are a feature of the original recording.