Tiny Music – ‘Epitaph’ [Review]

Former Chicago quartet Tiny Music manage nearly all of what is good in improvised music.  Playing exclusively acoustic, they gather a wide array of sound-making instruments and non-instruments, and given the manpower, eke carefully out a delicate yet sporadic sound.  They sync.  Yet they move fluidly.  And still they do so without rubbing our ears in the improv-ness of it all.  The ‘Epitaph’ C30 is two side-long pieces which personify an abandoned home (home, not house).  To say “haunted” would be a bit strong as there is nothing frightening about it.  Rather, “animated”, the structures creaks and wheezes, as if cluttered and struck by a zephyr.  The A side sustains a selection of long draws which create a sleepy rhythm pecked at by bright metal tinkles and the screech of fingered surfaces, or what would seem to be the band’s default composite material.  Side B boasts nearly thirty instruments in half as many minutes, and one can certainly sense the arcade dynamics of so many unconventional instruments fussing for attention: including a number of stringed instruments, accordion, whistles and containers of all sort, it’s as though the musicians are thumbing through a table full of contraptions, playing a few notes on each but not selecting any.  A big gap follows like a reassessment, and the swell of strings and accordion rise gracefully from the quiet, filling even the rusty scree of chains with a musicality which renewed by the multi-part banjo music of the second third.  The tape is quite literally deflated to the sound of balloons seeping their last gasps.  100 copies on pro tapes with heavy, screened inserts.

Notice Recordings cassette

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