Bryan Eubanks - The Bornholmer Suite (Nueni Recs)

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Bryan Eubanks - The Bornholmer Suite (Nueni Recs)

Post by snailed »

(Caveat: I have played on the same bill as Bryan Eubanks and briefly have spoken with him. However, I don’t believe this has an effect on my review).

Fifty tracks, one minute and three seconds long each, of open circuit electronics miniatures. Although perhaps I should say one minute long with about three seconds of silence at the end of each track. My first thoughts: Are these short tracks just a catalog of novel sounds? Or is this work meant to be taken as a whole? Do the parts relate to one another? Depending on your vantage point, it could be either, but after a brief setting-in time I began to see these works as making up an effective whole that is more than the sum of its parts. That’s not to say I didn’t have a bit of a challenge making sense of it. Once I began to think of The Bornholmer Suite more as a set of variations without a theme, things began to make sense (or, I suppose if there is a theme, it’s the open circuit electronics themselves). If that sounds cliched, I’ll explain more what I mean later.

The general area of the sounds themselves should be familiar to anyone who has seen someone fiddling around with the inside of a digital delay pedal. However, the sounds Eubanks gets are detailed, subtle, and devoid of any corny gestures that can sometimes accompany this instrument. (I have a special sensitivity to this as it is an instrument I have often used as well, inspired by people like Eubanks, Bonnie Jones, and Joe Foster, when I first saw this technique at an excellent concert at Wesleyan in the mid-00’s. I know one of them, I forget who, was inspired by Vic Rawlings, so I don’t feel *as* guilty about that).

::cough:: Back to that statement about a cliche: Eubanks seems to be letting the instrument speak for itself here with seemingly minimal intervention on his part. He will often start with a pattern or a very specific sound area and he’ll subtly let that sound live out its course over a given minute. If his hand is on a circuit (is it?) or if he’s holding a cable to something, it still must have required an intense amount of restraint on Eubanks’ part. If I’m understanding his definition of open circuit electronics here, any motion or hand movement will have a dramatic effect on the sound. It’s so remarkably clean and sophisticated sounding for the instrument, and it really doesn’t sound like there are overdubs or edits beyond cutting the track off at the one minute mark. However, I can’t say that for sure as it doesn’t say it anywhere on the packaging.

The sequencing here works very nicely, with the silences in between each track punctuating the short pieces and acting as a bit of a palette cleanser. Each track does seem to relate to the previous one, and it all seems like quite a bit of thought went into the order of everything here (although I have to be honest that I enjoyed listening to it on shuffle as well). But again, I can’t say for sure. That’s definitely my impression, though.

So back to my original question: how does it flow as one piece of music? It’s difficult, that’s for sure. One visual idea that helped me accept and wrap my head around The Bornholmer Suite was that of looking at a wall of many small paintings that all use the same medium and general technique.

Overall, a really unique way of framing this instrument, and essential to anyone interested in a fresh take on open circuit electronics.

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