Jon Gibson – Visitations I & II + Thirties (New Tone, NT 6747)
Jon Gibson – Two Solo Pieces (New Tone, NT 6756)

The archeology of the 1970s downtown New York minimalist music continues apace with the reissue of two LPs by one of the unsung heroes of the epoch, Jon Gibson. Gibson, composer, keyboard and woodwind player was a key figure in this scene, playing with La Monte Young, Steve Reich, Terry Riley in various groups, and as a founding member of the Philip Glass ensemble. Both of these disks are the equal of anything being done by Gibson’s better known collaborators – which is to say that they are remarkable.

Visitations I – II collects two “16 Multi Track-Textured Environmental Soundscapes” from 1973, mixing percussion and flutes with a variety of field-recordings of water, wind and so on. These are lovely sprawling pieces, gently pulsating sound fields, and among the most effective recordings that integrate water sound that I’ve heard. Even better is Thirties, a previously unissued sprawling keyboard driven piece that was a key part of Gibson’s oeuvre in the 1970s. With strong connections to Glass, Reich and Riley’s keyboard works, and showing the influence of Indonesian gamelan, African polyrhythms and Indian raga rhythm cycles that marks many of the key minimalist works of the time, Thirties is a delightfully laconic piece of minimal electric funk, featuring Gibson on keyboard, and a great ensemble including Gavin Bryars on percussion and David Rosenboom on electronic violin. Perhaps the closest comparison is mid-1970s Miles, without the trumpet, guitar and drums.

Two Solo Pieces collects two tracks from a 1977 LP, Cycles, a beautiful 22 minute solo pipe organ drone with a warm, drifting tone, and an untitled raga-like solo flute of great charm. Three previously unissued pieces of great interest follow. Melody IV Part I from 1975 is a David Behrmann-like systems piece of interweaved harmonic clusters performed by the SEM Ensemble in 1975. Melody III from the same year features Gibson’s solo organ in a Glass/Reich systems mode. Song 1 from 1972 is a gorgeous, looping melodic minimal piece that features a young Arthur Russell on cello and Barbara Benary on violin. Truly a treasure trove.

Originally published in Signal to Noise, 2006.

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