Glass (Not Philip)

Alva Noto + Ryuchi SakamotoGlass (Noton, 2017)

nova-glassRecorded for 37 minutes in a glass house, Glass unfolds into the long, ambient, ghostly drone you’d hope for, split by gentle computer electronics and the occasional quick clack of what might be a wood block.

When I say “glass house,” I mean The Glass House, built by architect Philip Johnson in 1949. No one lives in The Glass House; it’s a piece of art unto itself, situated on a 49-acre complex in the woods. Glass, performed inside the house by Aldo Nova and Ryuchi Sakamoto, coincided with a 110th birthday celebration for Johnson, which included installations by Japanese “dot” artist Yayoi Kusama. (And if you wonder what I mean by “dot artist,” click here.)


Glass isn’t an all-glass soundfest like Annea Lockwood’s 1970 classic Glass World (now released on vinylclear vinyl, of course). Its foundation seems to be the looped sound of mallets rubbing against glass, built into a moebius-loop drone. But other sounds encroach, like bits of metal drizzling onto the sonic glass surface: echoey percussion, a waterfall of metallic sand, or slow, isolated glass chimes.

In the final minutes, the underlying tone changes pitch, and a soloing instrument appears — a slow woodwind sound, full of distortion and distance.

A performance like this seems special enough to warrant a souvenir artifact, and sure enough, there’s a clear vinyl LP. It’s probably available from multiple sources, but I heard about it from Boomkat in the UK.

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