Suppose, by some happenstance, it occurs that the expression: “extended vocal techniques”, (e.g. vocal multiphonics), is not an extension of anything, but only inappropriate language description of functions already present in the trachea?
Kenneth Gaburo, “Brain Half Whole”
Ben Zucker is a composer of sonic/conceptual situations, experimenting with the art music tradition, improvisation, technology, and theory. His previous album, Confluere, merged his multi-instrumental solos into a broad composition, noted as “a testament to the power of restraint and arrangement” (Decoder Magazine). Here, with similar restraint, he tips the hat to Kenneth Gaburo’s system of ‘compositional linguistics’ and goes in a decidedly different direction. Drawing upon experience as a choral and improvisational singer, o ur gab is less a solo vocal album than an album of mouth music.
At the center of o ur gab is 'neither/n/nor/n', an un-spoken word piece drawing upon texts related to linguistic meaning only to remove all such content. First premiered as part of the Weisslich concert series in London, and presented in a studio multitrack here, the piece renders texts by Roland Barthes and Kenneth Goldsmith as wispy chorales of unvoiced consonants.
Surrounding it are a pair of extended works made of multitracked and rearranged improvisations. catalyst of one’s own positioning takes its title from a Simon Proll essay on vocal distortion in black metal from the Helvete journal, while the mouth is the beginning, an apt summary of the entire project, is a phrase from an entry in the Critical Dictionary by Georges Bataille. From the mouth, bubbles, squeaks, growls, and airs normally too quiet for consideration are brought to the fore, a catalogue of gestures attempting to submerge traces of the voice in its own noise, and seeking as a referent the noise of electronic and ambient music. Altogether, the album recognizes language as one particular technology of the voice, and seeks to work with another, not quite fully formed and discovering on the way.
released August 1, 2017
Ben Zucker - Voice, mixing, editing
Phil Maguire - Mastering, design