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Ghostly Psalms

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Customer Reviews

An great collection of unheard works

This is certainly an amazing sonic trip that Philip Blackburn takes us on: From transcendental bliss to a chaotic mode bordering on madness.

In the first track, Duluth Harbor Serenade, the city comes alive as he somehow manages to turn the harbor into a musical instrument, not only transporting the listener to the landscape, but transforming the soundscape in the process. From its proto-ambient beginnings, the album gives way to an indescribable series of unfamiliar tones and colors, that blossom and reemerge, each change escalating in intensity. He creates spaces and destroys them. All the time held together by an organic form that resists identification. It's like scenes from a strange and beautiful dystopia where the psalms are an ode to nature, but a very personal interpretation of nature as sensed through Blackburn's eyes and ears. My personal favorite is Gospel Jihad, wherein Blackburn sets two opposing choirs against each other, with dueling texts, time and tone, producing a maddening sonic dementia.

As for New Music touchstones: The creative use of new instrumentation along with the reliance on the human voice, recalls Harry Partch. The re-contextualization of forms (in this case hymnal/choral), clashing of timbres and effective use of dissonant counterpoint certainly remind me of Charles Ives. But this is definitely not Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms. Blackburn has not only held claim to being a self-described "environmental sound artist" but with this effort he has solidified himself as formidable composer of note within the American Experimental Tradition (even if he was born in England).

Definitely recommended.

Ghostly Psalms...

Wow...F - ing wow!!!

Ghostly Psalms, Philip Blackburn
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