Clive Wright: Taqsim to Antlia

On August 13, 2010 at the The Integratron, a large wooden dome built in the 1950s and located in Landers, California, Clive Wright performed a “live ambient guitar improvisation” while the Southern California Desert Video Astronomer team used deep space telescopes to project live images onto the structure's domed surface. At this Perseid Meteor Shower party, Wright used guitars, guitar synth, and oud to spontaneously respond to the live display of stars, galaxies, and deep space imagery and generate an ethereal, starry-eyed score newly documented on the seventy-seven-minute Taqsim To Antlia. His playing has been captured since 2008 in three collaborations with Harold Budd (A Song for Lost Blossoms, Candylion, and Little Windows), but Wright flies solo in the new release, even if the gear deployed allows him to create rich, expansive washes of sound against which his liquid guitar improvisations are heard.

The two-minute title track immediately establishes the material's otherwordly character, as Wright's limpid guitar lines resonate against a shimmering backdrop, before seguing without interruption into “Plateau of Mendas” where Wright solos at length amidst cathedral-esque washes and choir-like intonations. The sound is gauzy and the mood largely peaceful, as little hint of galaxial cataclysm is intimated by the album's six pieces. At times, Taqsim To Antlia suggests kinship with Fripp and Eno's No Pussyfooting and Evening Star and the solo “churchscape” recordings Fripp issued during the past two decades, among them At the End of Time, A Blessing Of Tears, and The Gates of Paradise, especially during those passages when Wright's electric guitar comes into sharper focus (“Vulpecula,” for example) and when its sound, as it does during “Cassiopias Necklace,” resembles Fripp's so closely. As pleasurable as it is to hear Wright playing in this context, Taqsim To Antlia might have benefited from some judicious editing, as its seventy-seven minutes start to seem like too much of a good thing at around the fifty-minute mark. Experiencing the project as a DVD presentation might have made a difference in that regard, as the visual display of the projected images would have helped counter any weariness that would set in on purely listening grounds. An abbreviated version of the release also would translate nicely into a vinyl format, with the CD's first four pieces lending themselves to a natural split across a twelve-inch's sides. Despite such reservations, there's no denying the beauty of Wright's playing and the loveliness of the penultimate piece, “Sine Nomine,” to cite one representative example.

January 2011