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coverpic flag US - Illinois - Full Moon 74 - 10/21/02

Glenn Kotche
Locust Music

In a very short gestation period, Glenn Kotche has really exploded the ears in a wide array as of late. Not only was he the percussive color and drum push behind Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but he has also appeared on Jim O'Rourke's Eureka, behind the voice of Edith Frost on her records, as well as on the soundtrack for Ethan Hawke's Chelsea Walls. He also serves as half of two duos, one with New York percussionist Tim Barnes, and the other with St. Louis-based bassist, Darin Gray, in their side project On Fillmore. Seeing as this is his first solo output though, this is an "introduction" to Kotche's multitudinous talents, and without the others around, his understanding of drum sound and compositional ability comes to the fore in startling percussive clarity over these four pieces.

Crinkling, tingling little raindrop sounds with low-keyed clouds, "Cheju" could be mistaken for an austere little computer piece, its atmosphere gentle in the early morning. "Stagger On," at 17+ minutes, is a behemoth of cumulous drum clouds. It glitches at the beginning, in a manner not dissimilar from that of employer O'Rourke's own Mego work, but that gurgling and foreknowledge dissolves to the background as brushes, flittering hand drums of the Indonesian markets and some tinkering bell-like resonance comes to the front of the ears. Its eloquent tones conjure up Dedalus's Pezzi Inediti organ melancholies for me, as well as that peculiar moment when I would slowly unlace my shoes out in the hallway before Javanese gamelan practice. From this peculiar place, where the gongs were ringing out and the hand drums were slowly hitting, gathering momentum, it was all merging with the practiced piano scales, group singing, and slamming of doors as they echoed beyond the hallways of the music building into a most glorious musical mash. Kotche achieves a similar, all-encompassing effect here. He merges streams of a dreamy minimal metallophone mindset that at times recalls Nobukazu Takemura's Child and Magic disc with a more thundering drum dynamic that really explodes like monsoon season on the speakers.

Kotche claims inspiration for this album came from hearing street gamelan mixed with booming beats from the discotheque as the sounds of airplanes buzzed overhead. He is letting all sorts of sounds into the mix definitely, certain in the placement of each sound in a manner that is not unlike the powerful sounds of Balinese gamelan music, both soothing and propulsive at the same time, the two disparities brunting up against each other in precise measurements. There is much to wander around in between each hit of the drums and pots, and the acoustic and electronic sounds travel a great distance.

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