Windmill – Waterwheel – Waterwheel – Windmill C40 (Notice Recordings)

by mrdpetri


These varied pieces of moody atmosphere were recorded in 1997. It’s clear that the involved musicians/engineers, Mr. Kirk Marrison and Mr. Charlie Nash, were at this time highly skilled listener-performers. My understanding, which is provided by Notice’s writeup of the recording, is that Charlie Nash is an inventive guitarist from NYC who has worked with Arsenal/Rhys Chatham, and his contribution to these recordings is primarily guitar based, while Kirk Marrison covers a larger portion of the processing and other sounds. For some time, Rhys Chatham’s music has been included on my extremely-huge-and-rapidly-growing list of artists to become familiar with. I’ve always enjoyed Glenn Branca’s music, so Chatham’s reputation as another guitar-orchestra composer tempts me with stimulating scents.

From the high quality of this Waterwheel I was especially inspired to seek out related recordings by Kirk Marrison’s projects Kiln and Fibreforms. I found Kiln’s website, which has a great, artsy-earthy minimalist appearance akin to the artwork on releases by one of my all time favorite artists, MAIN, and listened to samples from their discography, which spans from 1998 ish to 2007. I found Kiln to be very enjoyable. It’s electronic/ambient music with its own unique angle. A bit similar to some music made by Seefeel or Monolake, which I enjoy quite a bit. I wasn’t able to find anything to listen to of Fibreforms, but I imagine it to be a bit different and similarly enjoyable.

This Waterwheel – Windmill – Windmill – Waterwheel cassette emphasizes texture, which causes thick pleasures for me. There are clear divisions between the pieces on this tape, enunciated either by silence or by transformation from one distinctive aura to another. Side A has 5 titles, all being of effective durations and each being its own world of feeling and audio-tactile stimulation. Side B, having one title, “Heavywater (D2O)”, to me carries almost the same type of flow as the first side; having what seem to be clear divisions between different movements/vignettes of sound and/or composed music of guitars, vague electronics?, and percussion.

The performances of guitar and percussion on the recording (where guitars are not disguised by reverbs or other expansions, and percussion is not looped) are tight and clean. The usage of acoustic instruments periodically is spiced with carefully placed, carefully mixed atmospheric tones and field recordings which deepen the mood and complexity of the pieces. I was very glad that there were some pieces utilizing rhythm and more deliberate structures mixed among the abstract sound pieces. The mix of approaches to composition makes this tape a pleasure to listen to on repeat. It is well paced/well sequenced. This is a great success of a recording; intellectually and emotionally stimulating to listen to, and I am very glad to have come across it.