Keith Fullerton Whitman :: Antithesis (Kranky, LP)

Keith Fullerton Whitman, operating as himself instead of his IDM personality
Hrvatski, offers us a retrospective tour of his ensemble works with Antithesis. A
long tone collection of four drone poems crafted strictly from real instruments,
Antithesis spans the last decade of Whitman’s Boston-based career as each track
was recorded in a different apartment. Different spaces, different times, and
only the long tone remains a persistent thread throughout the time period.

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Antithesis is composed of extended guitar tones and jagged melodies, washes of
viola, sustained notes from a fender rhodes piano, and touched in places by
ghostly percussion. The title of the first track, “Twin Guitar Rhodes Viola Drone
(for LaMonte Young),” spells out everything you need to know about its eight
minute existence. The second track on Side A, “Obelisk (for Kurt Schwitters),”
slides into being like a handful of gravel being grounded against a damaged
microphone. The percussion is cacophonous and chaotic as if the kit is held
together by only two screws and each hit against a cymbal or a drum head must be
precariously carried out so as to not bring the whole kit down (and, of course,
four minutes into the song just such a crashing cataclysm occurs). Meanwhile the
meditative trance state of the infinite notes drone on. “Rhodes Viola Multiple”
layers the two instruments into a fugue of hazy texture. The viola is dragged
through a pit of mud and left lying on the floor where it can only groan and
thrash about in a much lower range. “Schnee” pairs up searching guitar with its
slashes of feedback-tinged melodies and an acoustic guitar, putting sparse
elements in the background as the two instruments spin and waltz about one

These tracks don’t fit the aesthetic of his upcoming studio album, Multiples, and
instead of leaving them to gather dust in a fading library, Whitman has given
Kranky the go-ahead to press 1,000 copies of Antithesis on vinyl (Kranky’s first
vinyl-only release), giving us the opportunity to lose our heads in the slow drone
of Whitman’s work. Antithesis isn’t a revelatory document of an artist’s
evolution, but it is a solid record of an evolution of sound, and worth your time
if you have a soft spot for the droning explorations of slow space.

Antithesis is out April 26th, 2004, on Kranky Records.

  • Kranky Records
  • Keith Fullerton Whitman Website

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