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- The Electric Harpsichord by Catherine Christer Hennix
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This was recommended to me by a regular customer who often frequents the towers to collect his sonic fix. He has remarkably good ears and so I was most intrigued. Then I read the recent feature on the artist in The Wire Magazine and her words and philosophy of sound really hit a nerve with me and I simply had to hear it…
So we contacted Die Schachtel to score some copies and they arrived… What a gorgeous, elegant package this disc is; housed in a luxurious silver and black A5 fold out edition accompanied by a mounted book featuring texts by Hennix herself, Henry Flynt and La Monte Young, who was a key influence on Hennix's work, along with Guru and master musician Hindustani raga master Pandit Pran Nath, to whom this single 25 minute piece is dedicated. It really is astonishing to discover that this work has remained unreleased until recently, having been recorded live back in 1976. This being hailed as a lost masterpiece of early American minimalism is no hyperbole. A huge amount of credit is due to the label for releasing this important and magnificent lost treasure.
The title 'The Electric Harpsichord' is both fitting yet simultaneously misleading as the audio here was not created by an electric harpsichord, but you would be forgiven for thinking so. Indeed this is an improvisation on Just Intonation (a practice which disregards Western thought on tone; which eventually became controlled by the scale of the piano). Just Intonation can be heard in Ragas and also East European folk musics.
Sonically this is total bliss, and an extremely powerful tool to help you forget your troubles, close your eyes, get comfortable and lose yourself in the layers of keyboard and sinewave generators, then get onto the road of enlightenment for this is a profoundly spiritual listening experience. Both cosmic and in some ways very earthy, it is a masterclass in the true power of sound and the places it can transport you to. Hennix displays an unrivalled sensitivity to tone and structuring of sounds that bounce off of each other, which in turn create something celestial and life affirming. In some ways this feels like the subtleties and nuances of drone music have been reassembled and put to the forefront without having to listen in closely to obtain the sort of hidden message.
A staggering and astonishingly wondrous audio delight to treasure, with the highest possible recommendation I could ever wish to give. Edition of 500 copies.
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