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    Phil Kline – Around the World In a Daze

    Phil Kline - Around the World In a Daze.

    Not only was John Cage the first to use the turntable as a musical instrument, with his piece “Imaginary Landscape No. 1” way back in 1939, he also used 12 radios in “Imaginary Landscape No. 4” in 1951. Four decades later, in 1991, composer Phil Kline took the boombox-as-instrument concept to a whole new level in the parking garage. While Cage only employed a small handful of the devices–each tuned to a different radio station–Kline actually recorded his own minimal music onto tapes and discs and handed them out to dozens of people, who played them back simultaneously to form a roving spatial sound sculpture as they walked around the streets of New York City in a form of avant-garde Christmas carol called Unsilent Night. In 2009, Kline released a deluxe DVD set called Around the World In a Daze featuring his boombox orchestra augmented with instruments and field recordings–all layered back upon themselves.

    The music itself, which was commissioned by the Starkland label for high resolution surround sound, can easily lull the listener into a daze as it ranges from lush synth drones to recorded pings and shimmers, lyrical violins to spoken vocal samples, melodic singing to descending percussion that gets layered thicker and thicker, heavy breathing and moaning sex sounds to cut-up orchestral music, woozy vocal chants and ghostly wailing to a pinging beat with violin screech that turns lyrical and rocks out, lurching, layered, reverbed Bach music to parrots and elephants at a watering hole that get buried inside a bundt cake. And the result is much greater than some feeble attempt at a mere home version of Unsilent Night. Daze is very much a trip around the world–from Kline’s New York City home all the way to Africa–as well as a journey around your living room and the interior of your mind.

    Due to the high resolution surround sound of DVD-Audio, it’s technically impossible to include video, which one might expect on a DVD. In its place is a slide show of snapshots taken by the composer of myriad scenes, including snow-covered wilderness, light splashed on a dirty sink, a bed of daisies, oil-stained grass, a blurry hand holding a flower, a sunlit skyscraper, a guy standing in a bright lime green room, two ladies on a billboard, park statues, mini Eiffel Towers in a public space, a rainbow over some buildings, a curvy country road, a cat not on a hot tin roof, but rather a sunlit yard, cityscapes covered with overcast skies, another city (this one snow-covered), a crowd of skateboarders, cloudy day buildings, a foggy lawn, a blurry patio, a big sky countryside, barren trees against magenta clouds, a head seen through a skinny sliver between a door and window, an umbrella-filled sidewalk from above, decaying urban rooftops and water-filled grass.

    On the “bonus” disc, a piece called “Meditation” offers a grainy, sped-up video shot from the composer’s point of view as he runs around various New York City buildings and parks. Some urgent, bouncing, rhythmic music matches the gait of the video perfectly, then turns strangely dissonant, calling to mind some agitated aliens on their first visit to Earth. A very lively interview with Kline and a gallery of behind-the-scenes production photos rounds out this excellent set, which comes in a unique double jewel case with a booklet of photos and revealing notes from the composer. Too bad I could only listen to Daze on little computer speakers. I can only imagine how amazing it must sound on an actual surround sound system–time for me to head on down to Best Buy and hijack theirs!

    Label: Starkland Catalog Number: S-2015 Format: 2-DVD Packaging: Double digi-pak Tracks: Disc 1: 10, Disc 2: 2 Total Time: Disc 1: 65:17, Disc 2: 44:41 Country: United States Released: 2009 More: Composition Today, MySpace, Official, Starkland, Unsilent Night, YouTube

    Text ©2011 Arcane Candy

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