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Turner Williams Jr., 'Droplet'

"Droplet," the opening track from Turner Williams Jr.'s Briars on a Dewdrop, plays like a field recording from a parallel world, yet there's something familiar in how its shimmering harp-like tones dart around the core six-note motif. Williams performs primarily with indigenous deep-folk stringed instruments, which he modifies and soaks in effects processing to create a vast palette of microtonal bends and moans. Agitated countermelodies create a call and response over the tentative main theme, and "Droplet" ends as mysteriously as it arrived.

As was the case in his previous projects (Ramble Tamble, Guardian Alien), Williams doesn't shy away from flexing his proficiency. "Droplet" reveals that Williams spends hours with these instruments, but the heartbeat of the music isn't suffocated by a barrage of "exotic" arpeggios or athletic shredding. Where so much current solo instrumentalism tends to be defined by what it shares with John Fahey, Williams lies closer to the weird-blood lineage of Tony Conrad and Angus MacLise, still-ineffable 20th century polymaths whose legacies, thankfully, continue to be excavated.

Copyright 2023 WJCT News 89.9

Daniel A. Brown