Keith Fullerton Whitman: Schöner Flußengel

Begun when Whitman assumed a Harvard lecturer position and gained access to the University's sound labs, the six mercurial compositions on Schöner Flußengel (pronounced “shooner floos-engel” and German for “beautiful river angel”), the thirty-three minute follow-up to Whitman's Antithesis, are experimental, disturbing, and sometimes so relentless they verge on unpleasant. With its acoustic guitar picking, tom-tom patterns, and spooky string scrapings, “Lixus (Version Analogique)” could pass for a Set Fire To Flames improv, while its more hallucinatory variation “Lixus (Version Numerique)” besieges the acoustic guitar picking with noisy poundings and a frightening wail. Equally challenging are “Gravicembalo col Piano e Forte” with its prickly electronics and seething shards and “Bewusstseinserweiternd Tonaufnahme (Einter & Zweiter Teile)” which blends throat singing drones, Reichian patterns, and bell clatter into a tumultuous brew. Only “Weiter” flirts with conventionality, its melancholy themes voiced by clavinet, piano, and organ.

September 2004