Journey of Mind
Soma String [CS; Field Studies]

Jimmy Billingham has a hand in so many different jars, it’s tough to know which cookie he’s gonna grab for next, although in the end it doesn’t really matter: It’s a cookie. It’s going to taste really good. I think a lot of folks probably say that his work as Tidal is the most celebrated, but I’ve always leaned toward the tapes I’ve gotten under the Venn Rain moniker. There’s a handful of others he’s recorded as, but Journey of Mind is a name that’s rung out over the past year or so that I hadn’t had a chance to check out yet, so I was delighted to receive this marvelous looking, gorgeously green tape from Chicago imprint Field Studies. And the music definitely presents a different side to the Billingham dodecahedron, starting out on side A with what sounds like could be the soundtrack for those poor souls who rowed galley ships back in the first millennium. It rocks back and forth along an oblong rhythm to the beat of an intimidating drum while a flute sings in its minor mode softly over the top. Side B lightens the mood considerably with an aching ballad plunked from a piano in a lovely, lilting (and wilting) sort of melody. But even if the letters of the signature are different, you can still kind of see it’s Billingham’s handwriting. It’s in the wobbly way he goes about it, tapes taped gingerly together, compositionally balanced to give everything a full, deep sound that also feels old, classic, and vintage. Understated and brilliant work from a composer working in a medium akin to the likes of Basinski, but attacking the canvas in a different way.


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