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Keith Berry - A Strange Feather & Turn Left A Thousand Feet From Here

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Artist: Keith Berry

Album: A Strange Feather & Turn Left A Thousand Feet From Here

Label: Twenty Hertz

Review date: Dec. 14, 2005

A Strange Feather and Turn Left A Thousand Feet From Here are the fourth and fifth lengthy works Keith Berry has released in the past two and a half years or so. That might sound like a lot, but Berry is a small-m minimalist in the extreme, and his ideas take longer to explore than those of most composers. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that he’d need several CDs to document them all. A Strange Feather is his most recent; Turn Left A Thousand Feet From Here is a limited-edition 20-minute bonus disc that accompanies it.

All of Berry’s albums are based around electronic sounds, but on these two, Berry seems to use fewer of the field recordings that were prominent on his earlier Buddha’s Mile and especially The Golden Boat. Thanks in part to the variety of different sounds, those albums sounded cinematic (The Golden Boat even had a programmatic theme, albeit a very loose one), but the new ones only occasionally do.

Many characteristics of Berry’s music – like its slow changes and its occasional repetitive patterns – might remind the listener of Morton Feldman or Steve Roden. But here, it’s not the repetitions or even the materials themselves that are most important for Berry; it’s their sound quality. Berry’s focus here is timbre – the all-encompassing richness of Berry’s lengthy, swelling electronic sounds is pretty amazing here. They have the sort of inconsistency and complexity of sound quality that listeners often appreciate about acoustic music.

Take, for example, the repeated whispery sounds that first enter about eight and a half minutes into A Strange Feather. They’re grainy-sounding and their component parts, including a bit of non-pitched hiss and a faint high-pitched sound, seem to fight with one another for primacy, giving the final result a subtly trembling urgency that brings the passage to life. Both records are filled with noises like these, and these albums therefore sound amazing in headphones or on speakers in a dark room.

By Charlie Wilmoth

Other Reviews of Keith Berry

The Golden Boat

The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish

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View all articles by Charlie Wilmoth

Find out more about Twenty Hertz

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