Bill Nace"s Through a Room represents a seismic progression from Both, his startling 2020 debut solo LP for Drag City. Nace"s career has been defined by a relentless probing of ways to frame the complex menu of human emotions, and that the guitar has been his primary tool for exploring this terrain is of little consequence.
On this new release, he also employs tapes, hurdy gurdy, doughnut pipe, quelle est belle, as well as his latest instrument of choice, taishogoto. This is also, ultimately, insignificant. What matters is the discerning spirit which animates his work. The tracks are carefully built from loops and phrases that talk to each other, subsume one another, overlapping and crashing and diving and expanding and emerging into unimagined vistas. On the whole, the record offers a fascinating and engrossing chronicle - a sequence of interrelated stories told by a temporally dislodged narrator. You think you"re here, then you"re there, and then you go through trapdoors and along tunnels, into cellars and secret rooms, and you find that actually you"re back where you started. But it's not hard to follow. Trust me. Nothing this enticing can be hard to follow.
The record was recorded and edited in Philadelphia during the uncertain summer of 2021 with engineer and co-producer Cooper Crain. Where Both was a chiseling down of spontaneous live performance, Through a Room, while obviously the work of the same artist, treats its sounds as building blocks, combining them to mesmerizing effect. What"s striking is the poise, the degree of authorial intensity. The false dichotomy of composition and improvisation is thoroughly and rightfully abolished. Bill"s interests range from post-punk to post-industrial to hip-hop to free jazz to avant-garde composition, and every area between such unhelpful labels. From the inscrutable, evocative track titles to the enticingly baffling cover art by his longtime compatriot Daniel Higgs, Nace is guided by an ineffable, internal muse, a persistently personal stormcloud of ideas that, ultimately, comprise that thing we call art. Here"s the real deal. - Matt Krefting, Holyoke, 2022