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Jozef Van Wissem - Nihil Obstat

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Artist: Jozef Van Wissem

Album: Nihil Obstat

Label: Important

Review date: Aug. 30, 2013

Jozef Van Wissem’s adventures with Jim Jarmusch and other collaborations have taken a lot of his time of late, but Nihil Obstat brings the focus back to the man and his lute. And one lute in particular: an all-black 14 course (that’s 14 strings in lutespeak) baroque instrument that he plays on all six of the album’s tunes. It nearly disappears into the cover image of the cavernous, barely lit interior of Brooklyn’s Our Lady Of Lebanon church, which is where Van Wissem debuted the instrument last year.

Scan song titles like “Apology” and “Patience In Suffering Is A Living Sacrifice” and you might expect this record to be one dark night of the soul, but it paradoxically includes some of Van Wissem’s brightest music of recent times. His fundamental compositional approach, which weds the mirror-image structure of Renaissance lute music to the trance-inducing repetition of 20th century minimalism, is unchanged. But he’s relented somewhat the austerity of earlier solo records like A Priori or Ex Patris, and let his lute lilt. The shafts of luminescent melody refracted by the overdubbed unisons of “Where You Lied And What You Lived For” and “Whatever She Lacks She Turns To With Diligence” provide a welcome balance to the other pieces’ melancholy. After all, you can’t really see what’s in the dark without a little light.

By Bill Meyer

Other Reviews of Jozef Van Wissem

A Priori

It is All That is Made

Ex Patris

The Joy That Never Ends

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View all articles by Bill Meyer

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