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Eyvind Kang & Tucker Martine - Orchestra Dim Bridges

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Artist: Eyvind Kang & Tucker Martine

Album: Orchestra Dim Bridges

Label: Conduit

Review date: Nov. 8, 2004

Eyvind Kang is blessed with the Midas touch. A Seattle-based violinist, composer, conceptualist and collaborator extraordinaire, he has previously worked with such luminaries of the avant-garde as John Zorn, Arto Lindsay and the Sun City Girls, as well as paying the bills via several stints with slacker generation survivor Beck. But it’s on works released under his own name where the golden fingertips perform their truest magic. His last two pieces, the remarkable Virginal Co-ordinates and the supreme Live Low to the Earth, In the Iron Age are two of the most exquisitely executed sets committed to a small, shiny metallic disc in recent years.

Tucker Martine himself, a highly respected sound alchemist and producer, has recently emerged from behind the anonymity of Oz’s curtain, being responsible for many of the exotic sound documents now being released on the Sun City Girls’ Sublime Frequencies imprint.

Orchestra Dim Bridges starts well enough, with Martine creating rough sonic sketches, juxtaposing electronic glitch work and excerpts from his vast library of field recordings, allowing enough space for Kang’s beautifully lush strings to sweep over the abstract shapes, re-writing some future mythical Middle East tradition. However, after a while the duo begin to get bogged down by their own talents and attempt to traverse a little too much musical ground, opting for dub, Tortoise style jazz-lite as well as terrain previously explored by another of Kang’s ventures, the Secret Chiefs 3, along the way. Sometimes a little less is a lot more. All this genre-hopping is done at a breathtaking pace, appropriating the most schizophrenic elements of the John Zorn academy, best exemplified by Naked City, serving to convey a feeling of dissatisfaction with any one particular direction. When the pace does temporarily drop, as on “Bright Shadows Occulted,” where dark drones assemble and electronics throb with an eerie menace, conjuring pseudo Crowleymass-like atmospherics, the hiatus from the cut and thrust serves the pairing well. If only this spirit of singularity were more often evoked.

While still undoubtedly a good set, Orchestra Dim Bridges falls well short of Kang’s past albums. It almost sounds as if the machines are revolting against their masters, leaving the undoubted poise and artistry of Messrs. Kang and Martine too often buried beneath their self-made sprawl of circuitry and strings.

By Spencer Grady

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