Flightpatterns - Open Graves with Stuart Dempster
Phil Spector had the wall of sound. Perfecture Records artistic director Paul Kikuchi and his associates have the well of sound, or maybe it's the sound of the well. Phil Spector mastered the art of sound that slammed you even when it came out of a tinny transistor radio. To appreciate what's going on with Flightpatterns, you'll need earphones or at least half-decent speakers, but with even modest gear you're enveloped in the mysterious sound recorded in what sounds like an enormous hall or cave — and that turns out to be a 2 million-gallon cistern (200 feet in diameter, 14 feet deep, with a 45-second echo) in the coastal burg of Port Townsend, Wash. That's where Seattle-based Kikuchi and Bay area-based Jesse Olsen, partners in the group Open Graves, play all manner of percussion instruments, unidentified and mostly unidentifiable, many of them Kikuchi's inventions; meanwhile a trombonist, University of Washington's Stuart Dempster, blows long, sinuous tones; brass and percussion — from the thundering to the tinkling — all echo eerily with tones continually overlapping the echoes of what went just before. Yes, you can do all sorts of things with loops and special effects, but this physical space has a majesty and mystery that you probably haven't heard unless it's on one of the earlier records cut in similar echoing spaces (such as Dempster's 1987 In the Great Abbey of Clement V). One question arises for Detroiters: Can we start having concerts in the salt mines?