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Greg Malcolm - Homesick for Nowhere

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Artist: Greg Malcolm

Album: Homesick for Nowhere

Label: Corpus Hermeticum

Review date: Jun. 5, 2002

This is probably the only Corpus Hermeticum release I’d recommend to Sandy Bull fans. Greg Malcolm may have made this album for the flagship label of New Zealand’s free noise scene, but it doesn’t really fit into it — this music has far too much time for composed melodies. And despite the use of guerilla recording strategies — a minidisc at a gig, a borrowed tape deck at home — it doesn’t really fit into the lo-fi scene that burgeoned in the early-'90s. What he’s doing comes through pretty clearly. And what does he do? Play guitars — plenty of ‘em, at the same time.

Malcolm uses both acoustic and electric instruments, one on his lap, a few on the floor, and manipulates them simultaneously to obtain several independent voices. It’s a neat trick, but I generally forget about it whilst playing this disc because the techniques don’t really draw attention to themselves. Malcolm has great taste in tunes: free jazz (Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” Charlie Haden’s “Song For Che”); ethnic music of Japan and the middle East; even the Beatles are grist for his mill.

Malcolm is well versed in free-improv aesthetics and methodology. On International Domestic, another Hermescorp disc, he more than holds his own with Tetuzi Akiyama. But here he’s generally pretty faithful to the melodies, which he articulates with a resonant tone and a fairly clean attack. But not overly respectful; he dive-bombs the title track’s finger-picked lead with some rude, fuzz-toned feedback. On the following “Depresso Guitar,” he uses an e-bow to coax a snaky Islamic folk tune through the buzzing haze generated by a guitar agitated by a small fan. “Strawberry Fields,” which is sung by Malcolm’s partner Jenny Ward, is the one track I could do without; her Kiwi accent plays up the song’s potential twee-ness, and even some fairly splintered accompaniment doesn’t save it. But that’s what skip buttons are for, right?

To learn more about Malcolm, check out his web page: http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~malcolmg

By Bill Meyer

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