The Wind Among the ReedsDoug Wieselman, From Water

Doug Wieselman | From Water (88 Records)

Solo clarinet records are not exactly trendy, are they? After hearing Doug Wieselman’s From Water, I’m thinking that maybe they ought to be. Wieselman is a New York musician who’s been on the rock, jazz, experimental, theater and TV-scoring scene a long time, and he’s done a lot of sideman-type work for the new-rock/new-genre likes of Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Yoko Ono, Antony & The Johnsons, Cibo Matto, Marianne Faithfull and Hal Willner and Marc Ribot, as well as playwrights Robert Wilson and Athol Fugard; he co-wrote all the music to Nickelodeon's The Backyardigans with former Lounge Lizard Evan Lurie, too.

Anyway, From Water is one of these terribly fashionable solo-clarinet-with-electronics projects you’ve been hearing so much about. The tracks were inspired, says Wieselman, by the sounds he has heard when listening to bodies of water. The album is thus a largely benign and meditative experience, though rippled with a mental tumult and tension buried ‘neath the waves of spontaneous structural approach and harmonic interplay/distortion among digitally multiplied clarinets. “Pacific 2” loops gentle, simple undulations of clarinet to fascinating perception-altering effect, so that at one point out of the side of your ear you think you’re hearing bagpipes. “Moonhaw” counterpoints filtered clarinet loops to create a sort of tone of open-mindedness, an inquisitive place that is placid but not softy-puffy, and, similar to the rest of the pieces, something that is really not correctly bagged as jazz or ambient or contemporary classical music. “Tennessee Valley” deals in digitally delayed deliberate lines in counterpoint, in petite variations such as added loops of mouthpiece squeal and squark. “Kepler-22b” makes interesting use of the upper registers to create split-tone effects over drawn-out single clarinet phrases; there is something akin to the head-pinching sound-wall of Gagaku in this one. “Gloria Fleur Madre” offers small bits of a clarinet’s squiggle and undulating squirm in jumbled timings much like the random sound non-patterns you’d hear sitting by the shore –– seagulls cry, waves roll in, seashells trickle back out to sea.

This is pure music, and a real ear-cleansing sort of experience. More importantly, perhaps, it’s a seductive and persuasive one, and I must say that I love Wieselman’s quiet determination to play, quite simply, only and exactly what he feels like playing.
–– John Payne

Doug Wieselman makes a rare live appearance in his hometown Los Angeles on April 14, at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo. He’ll play solo clarinet and do a second set with the Timothy Young/Doug Wieselman Quintet, which features Wieselman on clarinets and guitars; Timothy Young, guitars; Keefus Ciancia, keyboards; Sebastian Steinberg, bass; and Danny Frankel, drums. 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St #301, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 620-0908

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