Alva Noto + Ryuchi Sakamoto — Glass (Noton, 2017)
Recorded 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 vinyl — clear 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.