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CD Review: Joseph Bertolozzi's "Tower Music/ Musique De La Tour" 

(2016, Innova Records)

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As a college radio DJ in the early '80s, I used my airtime as an excuse to explore new artists and new sounds. I sought out David Van Teighem's These Things Happen largely because of his association with Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno, but also because I was intrigued by a 1983 news story about him "playing" a sculpture, Brower Hatcher's The Language of Whales, in Battery Park. Having already made an album with the Mid-Hudson Bridge, Poughkeepsie percussionist/composer Joseph Bertolozzi takes the latter idea to its perfect extension with Tower Music, which is performed entirely by striking the Eiffel Tower with mallets, sticks, and logs. It's more than a fascinating exercise. It's often mesmerizing, sometimes grooving, and always present.

Bertolozzi, in a long track you'll only need to hear once, explains his efforts—identifying sounds, testing different beaters, and building tracks via samples, frequently using hi-tech contact microphones. "The Harp That Pierced the Sky" has a marimba-like pulse that recalls Harry Partch's homespun devices. "Glass Floor Rhythms" might have been an outtake from Van Tieghem's work on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. And the clang of "Ironworks" lives up to its name, begging silently for some howling guitar from Blixa Bargeld. Bertoluzzi's work is not pop music. It requires open ears to hear through the novelty. But, like Eno's ambient work or Erik Satie's Furniture Music, it rewards in the background or at the fore.

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  • (2016, Innova Records)

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