Jeff Burch: Jeff Burch
The Spring Press

Multiple forms converge on Jeff Burch's second self-titled release, among them two strains of early American minimalism: the noise drones of LaMonte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music and the pulse-anchored style of Steve Reich works like Drumming and Four Organs. Unlike the ensembles associated with those projects, Burch is a one-man band who convincingly simulates some contemporary hybrid of those camps on the four-part recording.

His is an electrified music that buzzes with the high energy of the New York City streets, one where raw violins and cellos wail alongside the drone of Leslie organs and rich percussive arrays of bells, cymbals, and gongs. Issued on Burch's own The Spring Press and available in twelve-inch and digital formats, the material was composed and recorded over an eighteen-month period at both the American-born New Zealander's NYC home and during an artist residency that took him to Stockholm, Tangier, and Venice.

The opening “Empire Electric One” breathes controlled fire, powered as it is by a thick miasma of sawing strings, hand bells, and electronic pulsations. In certain moments, the vestigial spirits of Tony Conrad and Alice Coltrane seem to ooze from the music's percolating pores, until maracas and organ washes overtly nod in Four Organs' direction during the brief coda. Its title a reference to a town in northern Morocco,“A Figure For Moulay Idriss” works itself into a dizzying fever for eleven seething minutes. Gong-like reverberations punctuate an endlessly roiling cauldron of strings, electronics, and percussion and in doing so impose some semblance of formal structure upon the buzzing sprawl. At album's end, “Empire Electric Two” revisits the style of the opener though this time adds African-styled drum patterns and spiraling synthesizer flourishes to a now even noisier presentation.

Though its thirty-minute running time is modest by twelve-inch standards, Burch's eponymous set nevertheless makes for a fine follow-up to his debut, which appeared on Important Records in 2015. That this new collection was mastered by Chris Griffin, whose long list of credits includes work for Rhys Chatham, John Cale, Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, Elaine Radigue, and John Fahey, also seems wholly apropos, given the heady, wide-eyed experimentalism of the territory explored by Burch on the release.

March 2017