In what is destined to be 2018’s first major chart-topper, celebrated experimental composer Alvin Lucier returns to wax this month with an LP compiling two recent compositions, Criss-Cross / Hanover, in collaboration with Oren Ambarchi and Sunn O))))’s Stephen O’Malley. It’s out January 26 on Ambarchi’s own Black Truffle label.
Both compositions find Lucier for the first time exploring that most obscure of musical instruments, the “electric guitar.” In 2013’s “Criss-Cross” — written for and performed by Ambarchi and O’Malley using e-bows — the guitarists create “a rich array of sonic effects,” including “the remarkable phenomenon of sound waves spinning in elliptical patterns through space between the two guitar amps.” Based on the name, I also assume it will spark the latest national dance craze.
In 2015’s “Hanover” (the musical composition, not the city), Lucier “creates an unearthly sound world of sliding tones from violin, alto and tenor saxophones, piano, vibraphone (bowed), and three electric guitars” inspired by the 1918 photograph on the album’s cover depicting Lucier’s father on violin as part of the Dartmouth Jazz Band. Disappointingly, the track was not actually recorded in either Hanover or Dartmouth, but in Zurich. (Yes, this will be on the test.)
In case you need a little help getting your brain properly tuned to all this sonic dazzle-ry after the new year, check out live iterations of both pieces down below, and pre-order the upcoming Black Truffle release here (you can listen to samples from the record there, too). Personally, I recommend you jump on this thing before everyone realizes it’s the perfect soundtrack for their post-holiday clean-up.
Also, check out the obligatory tracklisting below, because it’s really important for me to hammer home what this LP is all about. And finally — and most importantly — Merry 2018, everyone! May all your Crisses be Crossed and your Hanover-grown truffles be at their very blackest!
Criss-Cross / Hanover tracklisting: