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Nothing Happens

'the sound of one',
reviewed by

Adventures in Sound    AIS CD 1001

andi garbi: the sound of one. © 2005 andi garbi

andy garbi hasn't found the shift key on his computer keyboard, which is a bit odd for one so technologically competent, and he doesn't tell us very much at all about his music -- simply dedication, titles, durations, credits and copyright. All right, let's just listen to it:

Listen -- stratospheres
(track 1, 0:00-0:47) © 2005 andy garbi

This is lovely, though continued listening reveals that the other four and a half minutes of the track add nothing new. And the singers? Just andy garbi.

There are nine tracks, all composed by garbi and performed by him with, on three of them, james hesford. The second track, rien, starts similarly except that we hear string(s), all played by hesford, rather than voice(s).

Listen -- rien
(track 2, 0:00-0:50) © 2005 andy garbi

This time, however, there is a clear line of development through the piece, culminating in an extended viola improvisation:

Listen -- rien
(track 2, 5:37-7:23) © 2005 andy garbi

But rien turns out to be the exception, since the remaining tracks follow the first by simply presenting a soundscape. In she, we hear a homophonic orchestral string sound; in the sound of one, a synthesised vocal/woodwind/brass texture; in desert of the soul, heavily processed strings over the kind of pedal point you heard in track 2:

Listen -- desert of the soul
(track 5, 1:40-2:17) © 2005 andy garbi

snow on water and sunray feature naturalistic piano sounds and zuzka (named for one of the disc's dedicatees) ends the programme with accompanied voices:

Listen -- zuzka
(track 9, 2:58-3:54) © 2005 andy garbi

This is music that can infuriate some listeners because 'nothing happens' and 'it doesn't go anywhere', but those listeners are blaming a lake for not being a river. Most ambient music is not intended to be the listener's sole focus and is genuinely less enjoyable when given full attention.

So it is with the sound of one. That, when you think about it, makes the task of reviewing the disc either simple or impossible.

I will just note that this is very good music of its kind, and M&V readers who enjoy Pärt, Gorecki and Tavener are quite likely to enjoy the (admittedly less complex) music of andy garbi.

Copyright © 31 December 2008 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia




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