A Crimson Grail
(01.2007, Table of Elements)
Released earlier this year, Rhys Chatham's A Crimson Grail is the live documentation of a 2005 performance in Paris that was written for 400 guitars. The scope and awing magnitude of the event is a difficult one to grasp. The most similar, comparable American performance that I can think of is the recent 77 person drum circle organized and orchestrated by Eye of the Boredoms. Continually products of genius proportions, it can be difficult to attempt documentation of these type of one time only events. I mean how do you properly mic and record 400 guitarists playing out in the open? A Crimson Grail definitely carries the air of musical notes drifting off into the night sky, but as a recording the nuances make this listen an experience of its own. Minimalistic in composition and maximalist in its sonic power, Chatham's A Crimson Grail is a weighty composition of intense beauty. The added underlying echoes of occasional voices and the applause that accompanies the end of each track enhance the respectable feel of the pieces. I almost feel like I should be renting a tux while listening to them. Similar in pace and structure of what you might hear from Stars of the Lid combined with the climactic compositional structure of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, A Crimson Grail is a glorious reflection of redeeming human spirit. So, while a sea of musicians are using pedals to try and make their guitar sound like 400, Chatham has already trumped the lot and shown the world what it is really like; a triumphant slice of bliss that floats on in your mind ling after the receding applause.
Rhys Chatham - "A Crimson Grail Pt. 1"