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So this is how 200 electric guitars, 16 bass guitars and percussion sounds,
This review is from: A Crimson Grail (Version for 200 Guitars) (Audio CD)
Scored for 200 electric guitars, 16 bass guitars and percussion this is a recording from the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival in 2009. The informative sleeve notes tell us that the guitars are divided into several sections each with their own tuning. In this way simple parts are built up into a whole.
I think listening to this at home confers its own advantages and disadvantages. Obviously you don't have the spectacle or the feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of musicians, hundreds of guitar amplifiers and the ensuing volume levels, but on the other hand you can let the sound envelope you without being distracted visually.
It's quite hard to describe the mechanics of what is happening here as I am largely hearing the sum of the parts (as intended) rather than the parts themselves. But anyway here goes...
The first part of the piece begins with a gentle drone with no harmonic or melodic movement. After a period of time basses begin to pulse in the murk underpinning scratchy guitar chords before it builds to a crescendo.
The second movement sees the gradual formation of a wall of sound constructed from a few chords.
The third part featuring very simple insistent riffs overlaid with powerful chords and higher pitched drones has a sense of forward momentum whereas the first two parts are relatively static. It builds hypnotically to a euphoric crescendo with almost choir like overtones.
All well and good but what does it do for you. Well I find it calming, the swelling and falling sounds creating its own environment. Apart from the usual minimalist suspects its impressionistic beauty reminds me of both Debussy (La Mer) and Ligeti (Atmospheres). It is music to escape into, music that alters your perception of your environment,music to let your thoughts drift to and is beautiful. It does require you to lsten to the full hour or so of it to get the full effect but it is worth it.