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Album Review

The Big Picture is multi-faceted. Mike Willox composed a suite in 14 movements using a vast quantity of sound sources, from junk and household objects to recordings of rehearsals and musician friends. Therefore, there are three types of material: field recordings from everyday life situations (a concert hall, a Japanese temple, a market, a train station, etc.), recordings of musicians in non-performing situations (various rehearsals and tuneups), and finally musicians performing, whether it is their own material (or improvising) or under Willox's indications — the difference is not specified in the liner notes. Featured players include drummer Mark Sanders, keyboardist Daniel Biro, a cappella group Forget Funky, and Willox himself on piano. All bits of material have been manipulated following electro-acoustic processes, sampled, and recombined. The sounds of the sea and the Far East foster images of a journey, but The Big Picture does not qualify as "cinema for the ear." It comes closer to a sound collage, not unlike Costis Drygianakis' Post-Optical Landscapes. But Willox plays the recombination card more often, bringing back sounds heard a few tracks before, tying the whole piece together in the process. Some loops have crude edits, but in general the composer works nicely, creating strange superimpositions. The problem is that the resulting music lacks the passion that would draw the listener into its universe. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Willox: The Big Picture, Steve Droy
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