Julia Reidy's 7th album is an intimate set of songforms using just intonation guitar, electronics and voice: both rigorously experimental and emotive, World in World is undoubtedly the finest work yet of the prolific Berlin-based guitarist-composer.
Where the recent trilogy of LP releases—brace, brace (Slip, 2019), In Real Life (Black Truffle, 2019), and Vanish (Editions Mego
, 2020)—focussed on increasingly lush electronic settings for Reidy's propulsive fingerpicking and auto-tuned vocals, arranged into wide-ranging side-long epics, World in World finds Reidy refocusing on the core elements of their approach while simultaneously pushing into challenging new areas. Comprising nine pieces ranging between two and seven minutes in length, the album's opening title track promptly introduces the distinctive palette of just-intoned electric guitars, subtle electronic processing, and voice that is rigorously explored throughout.
Where much of Reidy's guitar work on previous recordings explored rapidly pulsed cycling figures, here notes often hang in the air in a more spacious, lyrical fashion. The elasticity of rhythm and non-linear repetition of pitches initially suggests improvisation until the listener becomes aware of the precise arrangements of spatialised lines. At times, World in World suggests classic bedroom electric guitar works of the 1990s such as Loren Connors
' Airs or Roy Montgomery's Scenes from the South Island; like those works, Reidy's possesses a wonderfully live ambience, with frequent pedal clicks adding to the music's powerful sense of intimacy. In Reidy's case, however, the yearning, melancholic mood of Connors or Montgomery is tempered by the unorthodox guitar tuning, which at points produces a unique and uncomfortable effect somewhere between the hyper-precision of Harry Partch or Lou Harrison and Jandek's slack-stringed descent into the void.
While World in World plots out its terrain with a bold single-mindedness that allows some pieces to appear almost as variations on a common theme, subtle changes in emphasis distinguish each track. Tactile percussive interjections skitter across the tremolo tones of 'Paradise in Unrecognisable Colours', while 'Ajar' ramps up the role played by the electronics, with glitching pitch-shifted and back-masked textures threaded through the guitars and thickly harmonised vocal layers. Ranging from autotuned melodic lines to buried murmurs, Reidy's voice is a frequent presence throughout these nine pieces, at times creating the impression that a more conventional series of songs lurks underneath the chiming microtonal guitars. On the stunning 'Poised', whispers and distant, ghostly wails surround the layers of guitars, at times suggesting the foggiest outer reaches of Liz Harris' Grouper.
Sydney native and Berlin-based musician, composer and improviser Julia / Jules Reidy makes music for processed and acoustic instruments (mostly guitars). Main albums, between folk abstractions and electronic experiments, can be described as a series of non-traditional song forms which combine unstable harmonic territories, explored through an innovative guitar playing based on microtonality, rhythmic elasticity and abstract narrative over stretched, episodic forms.