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Jozef Van Wissem - It is All That is Made

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Artist: Jozef Van Wissem

Album: It is All That is Made

Label: Important

Review date: Jun. 11, 2009

After years of collaborating with guitarists and electronicists, exploring his instrument’s historical repertoire, and experimenting with settings, lutenist Jozef Van Wissem sharpened his compositional focus and artistic intent to fine points on his last album A Priori. By working with palindrome structures, he both referenced the instrument’s past and constructed pieces that stymied the march of time that had rendered his instrument into a Renaissance Faire prop. But this rigorous conceptual bent came with a cost; compare the record to the variety within his catalogue or even within one of his live performances, and you’ll see that the severity of approach is reflected in the music. Although It Is All That Is Made burrows even deeper into that method, it is paradoxically more user friendly.

The first track, “Darkness Falls Upon The Face Of The Deep,” picks up where the last record left off. Van Wissem is still tracing and retracing his steps in each track, and even recycling material from tune to tune; his music remains quite self-contained. But the judicious use of overdubbing to overlay multiple patterns and ornament the melodies creates a more rich and inviting sound. Bright harmonics ring out above the gamboling plucking on “The Stars Fall From The Sky And The Heavens Are Rolled Up Like A Scroll” like a planet blinking bright against a backdrop of stars, and doubled bass notes exert a magnetic force that pulls you close in.

Once there, you’ll hear how simple the beseeching air really is and how well Van Wissem has absorbed the core lesson of minimalism. If you’re going to work with reduced means, your core material has to be strong. Van Wissem is working with iron.

By Bill Meyer

Other Reviews of Jozef Van Wissem

A Priori

Ex Patris

The Joy That Never Ends

Nihil Obstat

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View all articles by Bill Meyer

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