Wayne Siegel is a lesser-known composer who worked in the milieu of post-minimalism: here are two vintage works of his, first released in 1983. Autumn Resonance is a speedy and specialised piece, whereas Domino Figures is performed by 42 guitars, creating massed clouds of texture. Reissued by Black Sweat Records.
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- Autumn Resonance / Domino Figures by Wayne Siegel
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Before Adrian Utley, we had Rhys Chatham’s guitar orchestra. Little did we know but at the same time as Rhys Chatham, you had Wayne Siegel’s guitar orchestra, back when guitar orchestras were clearly vogue. Good luck with the resurgence, Ade. Just keep playing those Terry Riley pieces.
Speaking of the Rileys and the Reichs, this guy was apparently part of the ‘post-minimalism’ movement, the composers of which took the reduction-based ideas from minimalism and wrote pieces for 10-100 guitars. I guess you could just call it ‘maximalism’ then. Or how about, ‘music’.
Anyway, there’s only the audio available for the 2nd of these two pieces, ‘Domino Figures’, which is one giant canon where everyone takes it in turn to start one of 97 phrases, the result of which unfolds slowly and beautifully over the course of around 20 minutes. Watching a performance of it is like a classical guitar Mexican wave, with every person who pauses to start the next phrase flipping their guitar hilariously upwards. It moves through chords very slowly, occasionally hitting some dark clouds but mostly reclining comfortably on a beautiful plucky wall.
The way it subtly shifts between these nice moments and grating textures is the best thing about it. Sure, it’s been mimicked in multiple decades of ambient music since ‘83, and it always moves in a continuous fade from one to the other, but it’s wonderful hearing a nails-chalkboard chord rise out of pure bliss to become a nightmare. Great things, unless you hate guitars.
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