November 24, 2013
This week, the Globule is stepping out of its “zonked music” comfort zone to present a peculiar gem of solo piano workouts from LA mystery man Gregg Wager.
The specifics of this LP are pretty odd. I picked it up on a whim a few months ago, noting first and foremost its cover (pseudo-conceptual minimalist graphics on the front, and collector-baiting Raymond Pettibon panel on the flip). The presence of just 2 side-long tracks and its LA ’85 recording specs just deepened the mystery.
Expecting some 80s cassette murk or late-SST ill-advised jamming, I was more than surprised to find a pair of exuberant, extended solo piano improvisations.
It’s a suite of hypnotizing, home-grown minimalism, immediately evoking John Adams or Phillip Glass, or even the single-minded pointillisms of Charlemagne Palestine. Disciplined but lyrical, recorded with an upfront immediacy and a refreshing lack of virtuoso embellishment.
An insistent, staccato rhythm is the crux of both compositions, but there’s plenty of room for complex harmonic content. On the second side, the phrasing is looser, and more grandiose hooks and motifs begin to develop out of the percussive din. The conclusion heads into floating tone clusters of the more mysterious, wistful variety.
A simple concept executed well. Can’t hate.
Grab it HERE