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«Looking for Daniel»

American seminal, experimental minimalist composer Phill Niblock passed away on January 8, 2024, when he was ninety years old. Looking for Daniel offers two of the very last compositions of Niblock, realized in close collaboration with the composer, just before his passing. Both compositions highlight Niblocks’s unique approach to composition where multiple, closely-tuned instruments and voices are used to create rich and complex sonic tapestries.

The first composition, «Biliana», most likely Niblock’s farewell composition, was written as a solo piece for violinist-vocalist Biliana Voutchkova. Niblock emphasized the distinct, tangible and physical aspects of Voutchkova’s violin and vocal sound, and created a hypnotic and mysterious, rich and profound drone that filled the space with layers upon layers of highly resonant, fluctuating overtones, up to a point of total statis. This piece suggests a sensation of stepping back to reveal a singular portrait of the musician. It was recorded at Akademie der Künste in Berlin in November 2023, and Voutchkova says that Niblock finished the mix and prepared it for release days before his passing.

The second piece, «Exploratory, Rhine Version, Looking for Daniel» was recorded by two Netherlands-based contemporary, chamber ensembles, Modelo62, and Scordatura ensemble from a live recording made at the Orgelpark, Amsterdam during the Echonance Festival #1 in February 2023. This composition is more reserved, darker, and even unsettling at times, and is comprised of 20 parts, where lines seem to emerge and disappear out of a landscape of harmonies and sonic spectra. The voice of Alfrun Schmid is hidden in the mass of acoustic, resonant instruments, just like in «Biliana», and this vocal dimension gives both compositions an added human element, something that always emerges out of Niblock’s seemingly dense musical constructions.

Eyal Hareuveni

Biliana Voutchkova (violin, voice), Ensemble Modelo62: Gemma Tripiana Muñoz (flute), Enric Sans Morera (bass clarinet), Justin Christensen (trumpet), Chloë Abott (trumpet), Vasilis Stefanopoulos (double bass), Ezequiel Menalled (conductor, electric guitar), Ensemble Scordatura: Elisabeth Smalt (viola), Alfrun Schmid (voice), Reinier van Houdt (keyboards), Claudio F Baroni (organ)