More and more, as one drone recording bleeds into the next, as novices, die-hards and mavericks rip asunder the bleeding heart that resides deep within the barest of noises, it will become evident that the founding father of the form won't be one of the usual suspects (Terry Riley, say) but Phill Niblock. The intermedia experimentalist has more than any other current practitioner paved the way for many a dronemeister to wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting populace. Enter Brendan Murray. Previous collaborations with the likes of Seth Nehil and Richard Garet (well-regarded sound artists both) have netted varying degrees of sonic bounty, mostly abstraction channeled through cantilevered tone collage; Wonders Never Cease performs a similar exactitude using confrontational building blocks of white, pink, and grey noise(s).
Culled from live performances in New York and Massachusetts, Murray's approach takes its cue from an electroacoustic vocabulary every bit as vital as that of the minimalists, of Phill Niblock's, of any sound artist who realizes the live, in-the-moment acoustic space surrounding them is integral to their composition's spatial width and girth. At this, Murray's know-how is unquestionable. The opening piece, "Hymn One", whips a force of herculean dimensions around the art space, as Murray lets loose a cyclonic maelstrom of arcing abrasion that stay just this short of tolerable; its frenzied, billowing gusts, quite Niblockian as it ascends, becomes a palpable force of nature. The quieter "Seize" makes more fertile use of the "ambience" emitted by the four walls enveloping the artist, Murray freely manipulating static airwaves and metallic reverberations that make for seriously foggy bottoms. "Hymn Two" ushers back the cauldrons of noise from its predecessor, upping the ante as its inchoate mass achieves Merzbow-like proportions of Olympian cacophony — surely these are hymns sprung from the throats of hell's angels.
By these measures, "Seas" is the disc's sole hybrid construct, taking elements of the prior noise poems to erect instead long, ringing modules of bastardized accordion that gradually march horizontally over an Alvin Lucier-esque long, thin wire. Gentle pulses eventually purr about, effectively stifling whatever abrasive notes might wish to surface; it's actually Murray's tensest moment on a recording where a bit more finesse might not have gone amiss.
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