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If Thousands — I Have Nothing
(Silber043, 2005, CD)

by Mac Beaulieu, Published 2006-05-01

I Have Nothing Cover art

This ambient duo has now produced six discs since their unusual entry into the ambient music world when this classically trained vocalist/guitarist and punk bassist dropped their known instruments to create music on instruments they didn't know how to play. Give me instruments I don't know how to play (which means any instrument not made by Hasbro) and the result could at best be charitably described as excruciating, usable as a weapon of mass destruction. I'm sure they've come a long way since that initial concept, learning rudimentary grasps of the many instruments they use and using familiar ones as well, because I Have Nothing is nothing if not musical. They've also taken a couple of other unusual approaches as well, using all relatively short track lengths and recording the entire disc of improvisations in two days. Considering the fully achieved creation of atmosphere, the latter is a striking achievement. There's plenty of variation from track to track, some stark and foreboding, some lush and inviting, and some in between. This variation emphasizes the short song aspect of the disc, yet there's a continuity at play that brings it all together. Part of this continuity is due to the use of standard instruments like guitars, bass, banjo, accordion, horns, and cello for everything from lead voice to drones. Electronic equipment is used as well, but the acoustic instruments seem to dominate and heighten the sense of individuality while serving to engage the less driftably inclined listener.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2005 releases

Related artist(s): If Thousands

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