Tom Hamilton – ‘City of Vorticity’

Posted by on September 27, 2016


There’s a disclaimer on the Pogus label’s website that reads “Caution: Listening to Pogus CDs may cause you to become one with the universe (or at least your immediate environment).” It’s true. The uncompromising experimental music imprint has been an onward-chugging musical force for decades, spawned by legendary “tape godfather” Al Margolis (who himself has been recording extreme sounds as If, Bwana for what must be an eternity) following the demise of his Sound of Pig cassette label in the late 80s. The Pogus roster is a veritable Who’s Who of the avant-garde underground, and the catalogue is seemingly endless. One of the newer entries is from Tom Hamilton, a composer whose oeuvre originated in the late 1960s, when analog synthesis was a burgeoning concept in experimental music. Hamilton juxtaposes his electronic works against acoustic instrumentation, framing his pieces as highly active and multi-layered explorations. With City of Vorticity, he has created a shifting series of “electronic sound events” that seem to respond to each other as they interact. Improvising alongside the electronic score are Margolis himself on violin, Alan Zimmerman deploying percussion and prepared dulcimer, and Peter Zummo on trombone and didgeridoo. The resultant sonic slurry is as mesmerizing as it is adventurous. The players manage to slot themselves into the spaces left for them in an effortless manner, which is a symptom of an environment laced with trust and mutual understanding. For those interested, Hamilton also presents the naked electronic environment, which is itself an enterprise worth exploring.

City of Vorticity can be procured directly from Pogus in both physical and digital formats, from the label’s website.