ex-easter island head Mallet Guitars Three (LP, £9.95)label: Low Point
Mallet Guitars Three is the eagerly awaited third release by Liverpool-based ensemble Ex-Easter Island Head. Following on from 2012’s critically acclaimed Mallet Guitars Two / Music for Moai Hava, Mallet Guitars Three is a thirty minute, four movement summation of the group's singular approach to creating music for solid bodied electric guitar, percussion and other instruments. The album was written over a period of eighteen months and refined during performances alongside contemporaries including Barn Owl, James Blackshaw, Oval and Grumbling Fur, in venues as diverse as a library on the Scottish Isle of Iona to London's Union Chapel. Recorded live in a former nursing home turned group headquarters, the piece expands the open-tuned, guitar-struck minimalism of previous releases into an ambitious suite of impressionistic, propulsive electric chamber music. Utilising four prepared ‘Third Bridge' guitars and three players, the group's signature interlocking rhythms are configured into a dense array of clicking call-and-response patterns and droning down-tuned strings. The treated guitars create a complex array of choral overtones and crystalline harmonics, sounding in unison with an array of handbells and prayer bowl percussion. From moments of intimate amp-hum ambience to clattering polyrhythms, the piece exploits the possibilities of metal-bowed strings to create radiant microtonal passages of harmony and discord. Resulting in an otherworldly progression through melodic stasis and resolution akin to the vocal works of Ligeti and the infinite drones of the Theatre of Eternal Music, Mallet Guitars Three is the most definite statement of the group's unique vision for experimental guitar music to date.
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