John Duncan & Bernhard Günter
Composed by John Duncan and Bernhard Günter.
Released on trente oiseaux, Germany.
Home, Unspeakable is a collaboration between Duncan and Günter based on Samuel Beckett's last work, an opera libretto entitled Neither that he wrote on the back of a card for Morton Feldman. Although Günter and Duncan both claim Feldman as strong influences, this work sounds little like Feldman, but is instead a "series of musical 'places,' which in their entirety form the topography of a 'landscape' we feel might be described by the final words of Beckett's text: unspeakable home" (from the liner notes). Making a heavy use of silence (even for Günter), the work features several sonic episodes that only occasionally rise out of the fog. It is easy to connect this piece to Beckett's late work, where communication is reduced to a minimum, and every attempt to do so is doomed to failure. A listener can easily connect the episodes to communicative events, as they overlap and mutate into each other, or fade into silence. The last event, which takes the last third of the piece, starts with soft brief whistles and concludes with almost inaudible rustles, as if the whistler finally gave up and crawled off into the darkness.
- Caleb Deupree, All Music Guide
Ideal compliment to the preceeding disc [THE CRACKLING]. Listen over headphones since the techniques used suggest the nearly exclusive use of extremely low frequencies, recorded at near-zero level... but don't punch the volume up, because you'll risk your ears (this may sound contradictory, but consider ultrasound and you'll understand) ... From time to time the slow manifestations of interference and unidentifiable noise refer to a more identifiable situation than previous discs, but in every way this CD is in a class by itself and confronts alone the well-known American philosophy: certainly not the ideal approach to this artist.
- Massimo Ricci, DEEP LISTENINGS
...Best record of 1996!
- Jim O'Rourke, interview in THE WIRE
i liked john's musical work from the first time i heard it, although i could never really point out why... a discussion with a friend (who shall go unnamed here) who said: "i don't how you can like this - it's not even really composed!", put me on the right track: i found that the amazing thing about john is that he actually composes in quite a different way from how western music is generally done. the classic compositional method is mainly based on speech-like figures, & works by repetitions & similarities, whereas john uses almost exclusively differences for the connections in his pieces, with a great intuitive feeling for choosing those differences in a way that they actually CONNECT the different parts as well as separating them. so it was great to bring john's intuition about sound & it's development together with my ideas of constructing larger forms, which actually work using similarity & repetition, even more so because we found that using quite different methods, we were looking for more or less the same things in our works.
[In HOME: UNSPEAKABLE] we set out using the last line of samuel beckett's libretto for feldman's chamber opera "neither", "unspeakable home", as a point of reference to set the overall tone for the composition, deciding that it would have the overall form of a series of musical landscapes that might describe the topography of such an 'unspeakable home'... the piece has less the form of a story (language), but of a walk in a landscape (perceiving its existence, it's "being-like-this")... of course the quote from beckett worked more as a kind of landmark, a lighthouse, if you will, than a rigid rule, since we didn't want to slip into a weird kind of programmatic music.... we worked in my home studio on several occasions, using sounds made by both john & myself - what we came up with, i think neither of us would have been able to do alone by himself, which makes it the experience especially precious for me, plus it sounds quite like nothing else i know...
- Bernhard Günter
Either the most brilliant electronic music ever made, or the worst CD I've heard yet.
- Charles Powne, SOLEILMOON