UK composer Doyle has produced a small but unimpeachable body of work for well over three decades. "Classically" trained, he long ago shucked the world of formal composition and embarked on studying electronic and electroacoustic music applications, first at the famed Institute of Sonology, then later in Utrecht. His earliest acts of creation were as Operating Theatre, releasing a series of curious (and stellar) works for Steve Stapleton's (aka Nurse with Wound) United Dairies label. Some of those recordings have been recently unearthed and subsequently reissued - they are a handy primer to Doyle materiél Mk I; however, it is important to understand that his work since O.T. has revealed a mature composer who remains criminally under-recognized to this day.
The Ninth Set should change that situation, provided it gets out to the right folks, although one would have thought the previous 5-CD magnum opus Babel might have been responsible for that. Nevertheless, this new Doyle recording ranks as some of his finest yet, an over hour-long, five-part electronic/collagist "symphony" of sorts that incorporates daring sleights of (sampling) hand and an expert grasp of both analog and digital synthesis. The beginnings of parts one and four incorporate almost "traditional"-sounding, Teutonic synth dissonance (of the hoary Tangerine Dream variety), but Doyle isn't one to submit to laissez-faire models - such textures reside at the margins of perception, as Doyle upsets the surroundings with haunted-house creaks and groans, arching tremolos, brief gusts of noise. It is a simultaneously becalming and cathartic experience, though the proceedings often become far too busy fluctuating amongst a barrage of mysterious, ectoplasmic sounds to maintain balance (or keep the listener on an even keel).
If there is one certainty to Doyle's precise means of execution, it is that he confounds expectations along the journey - the hesitant, subtly beautiful expanses of the final, fifth piece reveal a pearlescent ambience suggestive of late 70s Eno-culations were it not for Doyle's persistent desire to hover between minimalist and maximalist states. Such eclecticism holds him in good stead, however, and posits The Ninth Set as an extremely poised and often powerful piece of work.
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